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Temporary Change to Parental Leave

Published 25 May 2020

The coalition Government has made a temporary change to the Parental Leave rules in order to allow workers to return to work for a period up to 12 weeks, essentially 'pausing' their leave, then resume their parental leave entitlements after such a period, including their Government payments. This is another part of the Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is an eligibility test and employees themselves should contact IRD directly to ensure they are eligible for this based on;
  • the skills, experience or qualifications of the worker cannot be filled by others, or
  • there is an unusually high demand for workers in their role.

Those workers who wish to do this, and qualify, will;

  • temporarily stop receiving parental leave payments.
  • receive Best Start payments.
  • not use any of their 'keeping in touch' hours.
  • not have the time worked deducted from the maximum period they can receive parental leave payments.
  • not have the time worked deducted from the maximum period they can be on parental leave, including extended leave.
  • temporarily not be able to transfer parental leave entitlement to spouses or partners.

This change also applies to anyone who went back to work early from parental leave for reasons related to the COVID-19 outbreak since 25 March 2020, so if you've already called short your parental leave even before this temporary change has occurred you could contact the IRD to check eligibility.

All other usual rules to parental leave apply, including the employer cannot force an employee to return early from parental leave. It would have to be mutually agreed.