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06 Jul 2020

Can Dads Get Maternity Leave... and how does it all work?

Baby . Written by Parent Village

It is increasingly common and accepted for dad to take on the primary carer role, and for mum to be the primary bread winner. But are stay-at-home dads eligible for the same entitlements as mums?

The short answer is yes. Thanks to recent changes to the ‘Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987’, the primary caregiver can be any person taking on the care of a child under the age of 6, through birth, adoption, whāngai, or other means. This means that parents can now share the 22-52 weeks un-paid parental leave, and 26 weeks paid leave, between two primary caregivers, as suits.


Primary Carer’s Leave

‘Primary Carer’s Leave’ is the new ‘Maternity Leave’, and ensures that any person employed for at least 6-months prior to birth or adoption, is eligible for at least 22 weeks of unpaid leave.


Extended Leave

‘Primary Carer’s Leave’ can then be extended to 6 or 12 months, depending on how long the carer was with the same employer for prior to birth or adoption. This can be shared between partners, so long as both qualify for extended leave. The only caveat is that if one partner only qualifies for 6 months leave, then they can take no more than 6 months of the total. Click here for more information on extended leave.


Partners Leave

‘Partners Leave’ can be taken in addition to ‘Primary Carer’s Leave’. Partners leave used to be called ‘Paternity leave’, and is paid leave of up to two weeks at the time of birth or adoption. To be eligible for the full two weeks, the partner must have been in the same employment for 12 months prior. If they were were with the same employer for at least 6 months, they are eligible for just one week.


Paid Parental Leave

Any person in employment for a minimum of 10hours p/week for at least 26 of the 52 weeks prior to birth or adoption is eligible for 26 weeks of paid parental leave of up to $606.46 as of July 2020. This is paid by the government, not your employer, and is income tested. Again, it is possible to share the parental leave payments between two primary caregivers, so long as both are eligible. Click here for more information on parental leave payments.


What this means for mums and dads?

By implementing the above changes, and allowing parental leave and parental leave payments to be shared between partners, the government no longer incentivises strict adherence to traditional gender norms. So while most mums and dads continue to do things the old fashioned way, and that’s great, it is now possible in this country for mums and dads to share the joys and challenges of being a stay-at-home parent in the way that most suits their unique values, lifestyles, goals, and family circumstances.  


Find out more...

For an in depth and easy to understand overview of the ‘Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987’, visit the community law website, keyword “parental leave”.

To find out how much paid and unpaid parental leave you and your partner may be eligible for, visit Employment New Zealand.



About the author: Parent Village aims to provide relevant and research based information, to help support parents to make the best decisions for their tamariki.