Changes to parental leave provisions come into force on 1 April 2016, placing new requirements on all New Zealand employers.
The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Regulations 2016, made under the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987, replace the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Regulations 2002.
The regulations prescribe information relating to applications for parental leave and for parental leave payments, such as the manner in which applications must be made and the information that must be provided.
MBIE's Employment New Zealand website provides details of the changes which come into effect on 1 April. These include:
- The parental leave payment period extends to 18 weeks from 1 April 2016.
- The parental leave payment is extended to non-standard workers (such as casual, seasonal, and employees with more than one employer) and those who have recently changed jobs, as well as to other employees and self-employed people.
- Entitlements are extended to cover all permanent arrangements where the applicant has primary responsibility for the care, development, and upbringing of a child under 6 years, including adoption, Home for Life parents, whāngai, grandparents, etc, from 1 April 2016.
- Paid keeping-in-touch days are available for employees on parental leave, by agreement between the employer and employee, from 1 April 2016.Additional parental leave payments of up to 13 weeks are available if a baby is born prematurely before 37 weeks.
- Some terms associated with parental leave have changed. "Maternity leave" has been replaced by "primary caregiver leave", and "paternity/partner's leave" has been replaced by "partner's leave".
The maximum weekly amount of parental leave payments increased from 1 July 2015, and the parental tax credit increased to $220 a week, and the payment period was extended from eight weeks to 10 weeks, from 1 April 2015.