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Parental leave payment period

The parental leave payment period can’t start later than the child’s arrival and the payments are for up to 18 weeks.

The parental leave payment period must be continuous

Parental leave payments are payable for one continuous period of up to 18 weeks. If you transfer some or all of your parental leave payment (external link) , your spouse or partner must also take the amount transferred in one continuous period that starts the day after your payment period ends.

Earliest start date

The earliest date that the parental leave payment period can start from is:

  • in the case of a child born to the person or to the person’s spouse or partner, on the earlier of—
    • the date the person starts parental leave (or finishes work), and
    • the due date/ birthdate /date of confinement; and
  • in any other case, on the date on which the person becomes the primary carer of the child (and is on parental leave or has finished work).

Latest start date

The latest date that the parental leave payment period can start from is:

  • the birth date if the child is born to the person or their spouse or partner; or
  • the date the person becomes the primary carer of the child if the primary carer isn’t the birth mother or her spouse or partner.

If you apply later, the parental leave payment period start date will still be backdated to the date that the child was born or you became the primary carer of the child. Your application must be made before the earliest of:

  • your return to work
  • the first anniversary of: your child’s birth, or the date you or your partner became the child’s primary carer.

Applying for parental leave payments has more about how to apply for parental leave payment.

How long you will receive your payments for

You will usually get your parental leave payments for up to 18 weeks. Payments will stop earlier (before the end of 18 weeks) if you:

  • transfer the payment, or part of the payment, to your spouse or partner, or
  • return to work (not including keeping in touch days), or
  • stop being the primary carer of the child.

If you return to work (not including keeping in touch days) and you are still receiving parental leave payments you must contact Inland Revenue and advise them of your return date. Your entitlement to payments ends on the day you have returned to work.

Keeping in touch days has more about staying connected with your employer.

Annual holidays (annual leave)

  • Sometimes employees want to take annual holidays before the arrival of their child. If an employee is on annual holidays and gives birth to or becomes the primary carer of their child, the law doesn’t stop them from getting parental leave payments for the same period of time as they receive annual holidays payments.
  • If an employee wants to overlap their parental leave (and parental leave payments) with a period of annual holidays (and annual holidays payments), they should discuss this with their employer. Employees can only take annual holidays with the employer’s agreement. The employer and employee should consider whether the employee should keep the benefit of having time off for annual holidays after the parental leave has finished.
  • There will be tax implications for receiving the two types of income (pay for annual holidays and parental leave payments) at the same time. Customers will need to use a secondary tax code for the lower of the payments to make sure they pay the right amount of tax.
  • If an employee doesn't want to receive two types of income at the same time, they can apply for the parental leave payments later (for example, at the end of the period of annual holidays, or a later time, provided it's before 12 months have passed since the child's arrival). The payments will still be backdated to the start of the parental leave payment period, but would not be subject to secondary tax.

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