Parental leave updates 2020

Further changes to parental leave took effect on July 1st 2020, so what does that mean for your business? 

The amount of Primary Carer's Leave and Keeping in Touch hours have increased under The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act - here's what it means for employers...

Primary Carer's Leave

The duration of primary carer's leave has increased from 22 weeks to 26 weeks from 1st July 2020.

Keeping in Touch hours

Keeping in Touch hours allow parents to do limited work while on parental leave, if they choose to, for example to attend a team day or change announcement.

From 1st July the number of keeping in touch hours increased from 52 to 64 hours.

We've created a guide outlining the minimum steps we recommend employers take when they receive a parental leave request 

10 KEY STEPS FOR EMPLOYERS 

As an employer you must be prepared and aware of your legal rights and the rights of your employee 

The following steps outline the basic response to an employee requesting parental leave: 

  1. Verify employee's eligibility 

    Is your employee eligible for parental leave? Check how much leave they are entitled to under the Government's six or twelve month criteria. 

  2. Open conversation with employee to establish parental leave plans 

    Have a conversation with the employee to establish their parental leave plans. Encourage the employee to formalise their plans in writing (see point three).

  3. Ensure the employee has given the required amount of notice in writing 

    Employees must write to you at least three months before the baby's expected due date and state the type of leave, date they want it to start and how long the period of leave will be. 

  4. Amount of parental leave payment 

    The employee will receive a weekly payment for one continuous period of up to 26 weeks (from July 1). It is up to the employee to arrange payments with the IRD.
     
  5. Verify employee's entitlements to annual leave 

    Has your employee accrued annual leave? Do they wish to take leave in advance? Discuss this with them to establish their plans and how much flexibility you can provide.  

  6. Formally reply to the employee about their entitlement  

    You have 21 days to formally reply to the employee's written request for parental leave and on receiving the letter, you have seven days to obtain further information from the employee, if required.

  7. Minimise impact of employee's parental leave 

    Swiftly establish a plan to cover the employee's workload in their absence to avoid uncertainty and confusion among the team. I.e. arrange fixed term / temp cover, share workload, etc.  

  8. Keep in touch with employee 

    Avoid communication breakdowns and confusion by maintaining open dialogue with the employee during their parental leave; keeping in touch days are a beneficial way of doing this. 

  9. Return to work 

    Employees must give at least 21 days notice if they decide not to return to work after parental leave. Have an open discussion with the employee about returning to work arrangements, for example working from home, part-time, flexible working arrangements, breast-feeding, etc. 

  10. Remember

    The key to a successful employer / employee relationship is to be open and communicative, be fair and reasonable in the decision you make, and ensure everything is agreed in writing from both sides. 

This guide gives an outline of employer and employee responsibilities, it is not intended as legal advice. Further information about Government policies surrounding parental leave can be found here. If you would like to speak to a Consultant about  polices and processes within your organisation, call (03) 366 4034 or email info@eqconsultants.co.nz