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Parental leave eligibility – who can take it

Employees may be able to take leave from work to care for their new child. To take parental leave they must meet either the six or twelve month criteria.

You can now calculate how much parental leave you or your partner are entitled to by using the parental leave eligibility tool.

Leave may be available to:

  • female employees having a baby, and to their spouses or partners (includes a married, civil union or de facto relationship with a different or same-sex partner)
  • employees, and their spouses or partners (includes a married, civil union or de facto relationship with a different or same-sex partner), who begin permanently caring for a child under six years who is not their natural child (this includes permanent care such as adoption (external link)   and home for life (external link) , but not foster care).

You can take parental leave again for a different child as long as you’ve been back at work for six months before the expected arrival of your next child and you still meet the parental leave criteria.

To take parental leave you do not have to be a citizen or a permanent resident of New Zealand, but you must be employed under New Zealand employment law.

Types of parental leave has more on if you qualify for government-funded parental leave payments, sometimes referred to as paid parental leave.

People on fixed-term employment agreements get the same entitlements to parental leave and parental leave payments as permanent employees as long as they meet the criteria.

To take parental leave you must meet either the  six month or 12 month criteria. The amount of leave you can take depends on whether you meet the six or 12 month criteria. If you have worked for the same employer for more than 12 months, but not for an average of 10 hours per week, you may still be able to take parental leave under the six month criteria.

Six month criteria

You must have worked for the same employer for an average of at least 10 hours a week for the six months before your baby’s due date (or the date you become responsible for the care of a child under six years on a permanent basis).

Twelve month criteria

You must have worked for the same employer for an average of at least 10 hours a week for the 12 months before your baby’s due date (or the date you become responsible for the care of a child under six years on a permanent basis).

If you would normally have been at work for an hour (or hours) but were absent due to the reasons listed below, this time is still counted towards the 10 hour per week criteria:

  • absent on leave with pay
  • on leave without pay (other than parental leave) with the employer’s agreement
  • pregnant and on primary carer leave prior to the expected date of delivery
  • entitled to an ACC payment for that hour
  • on volunteers leave
  • absent for any other reason that doesn’t disrupt your normal pattern of employment, in the view of a Labour Inspector.

Usually, an employee's old employer counts as the ‘same employer’ if:

  • a trade, business or undertaking is transferred (eg sold) from one employer to another
  • a body corporate is changed or replaced because of legislation
  • trustees take over the business after the employer’s death
  • there’s a change in partners, personal representatives or trustees who employ the employee
  • the employee is transferred to an 'associated employer' (eg a subsidiary).
  • If you’re a junior doctor working for a district health board (DHB) and you’re required to rotate between different DHBs as part of your compulsory training, your employments with each employing DHB is treated as one employment for the purposes of determining whether you meet either the six or 12 month criteria for parental leave.
  • If you’re a teacher employed by multiple boards of trustees during the eligibility period, your employments by each board of trustees is treated as one employment for the purposes of working out whether you meet either the six or 12 month criteria for parental leave. You will still need to meet the hours of work criteria.

Parental leave eligibility tool

Answer each question below to find out if, and for how long, you or your partner are entitled to parental leave.


Question 1

Are you giving birth to a child or going to be the primary carer of a child under 6 who you will have permanent responsibility for?

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