|Vice-Chancellor, 27 April 2009
|Date Policy Took Effect
|27 April 2009
|Last approved revision
|1 January 2024
|Director, Human Resources
|Head of Organisational Development
To outline University employee parental leave entitlements and conditions. In doing so, this policy aims to support parents, children and whānau appropriately, based on the principle of manaakitaka (generosity of spirit, respect, and care).
This policy applies to all employees at the University who have it referenced in their employment agreement.
- Primary carer
- The carer who takes primary responsibility for the care and upbringing of a new-born child, or a child under six years old who is either adopted or placed in their care. The primary carer could be the birth parent, their spouse or partner, mātua whāngai, adoptive parents, or other family members such as grandparents. In alignment with the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987, if multiple people meet the definition of primary carer of a child, they must jointly nominate one primary carer who will be the person who is entitled to parental leave under this policy.
- A parent who is not nominated as the primary carer for the purposes of parental leave.
- Pacific Customary Adoption
- Adoption under Pacific customary practices.
- Adoption under Māori customary practice.
- The legal entitlements to parental leave are contained within Parts I to V of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987.
- The terms of this policy reflect the minimum legislative requirements, and are supplemented with additional entitlements offered by the University.
- All University employees covered by this policy are entitled to unpaid leave under the provisions of this policy.
- To be eligible for the paid parental leave provisions the employee must have an employment agreement that extends at least six months beyond the date they propose to return to work from parental leave.
Maximum leave entitlement
- Parental leave of up to 52 weeks may be granted, including any paid period agreed to by the University.
- The maximum 52 week period of parental leave may be taken by the primary carer exclusively.
- Leave may also be shared between the primary carer and their partner, as outlined in clause 4 below.
- The two-week paid leave entitlement for partners employed by the University is in addition to the 52-week total entitlement, but no individual may take more than 52 weeks in total.
- Access to the University’s parental leave provisions does not affect the individual’s entitlements under the government’s paid parental leave provisions.
Types of parental leave
- Paid Primary Carer Leave
- Primary Carer Leave is paid leave of up to 12 weeks available to the Primary Carer of a child based on their normal pay rate and FTE applying prior to their taking leave.
- A temporary reduction of hours during the last few weeks of pregnancy does not affect this rate, and the paid leave may be taken at any time during the period of parental leave.
- The primary carer can choose to share this leave entitlement with their partner if their partner is also an employee of the University and they are sharing responsibility for caregiving in the 12 months following birth or adoption.
- Special Leave
- An employee who is pregnant is entitled, before taking up Primary Carer Leave, to take a total of up to ten days special leave without pay for reasons connected with their pregnancy.
- An employee who is adopting a child is entitled, before taking up Primary Carer Leave, to take a total of up to ten days special leave without pay for reasons connected with the adoption.
- Special leave is also available to partners.
- Partner’s Paid Leave
- Partners of primary carers are entitled to take up to two weeks (ten days) of paid leave based on their pay rate and FTE applying immediately prior to their taking leave.
- This applies whether the primary carer works for the University or not.
- Partner’s leave may be taken in a block, or in any configuration that suits the family and is agreed with the department.
- The entire entitlement must be taken within the allowed parental leave period (52 weeks).
- Birth Parent Leave
- Birth Parent Leave is unpaid leave that can be taken by a birth parent up to six weeks before their due date.
- Extended leave
- Extended leave is any other period of leave during the first 12 months after the birth or adoption, beyond the initial period of Paid Primary Carer Leave.
- This leave can be taken by a primary carer, or shared, and can take the parental leave total to a maximum of 52 weeks.
- Paid Primary Carer Leave
Terms and conditions for ex-gratia payment and paid leave options
- Where an employee meets the terms and conditions, they can apply for the University’s Parental leave payment provision as an ex-gratia payment, instead of paid leave as above.
- An employee, who has taken parental leave, but chosen not to take the paid leave option, may on return to work qualify for a payment equivalent to the amount of leave taken (maximum 12 weeks), based on their normal pay rate and FTE applying prior to their taking leave. A temporary reduction of hours during the last few weeks of pregnancy does not affect this rate.
- Application must be made within six months of an employee’s return to work. Approval of applications outside this timeframe and/or the terms and conditions will be at the discretion of the Director of Human Resources.
- Any ex-gratia payment approved will be paid after the employee has returned to work.
- Application for either the Ex-Gratia payment or the Paid Primary Carer Leave alternative will require the employee’s written agreement to repay a pro-rated sum if they resign or do not otherwise return to work after the leave period and complete a further six months continuous service. In this eventuality, the sum that must be repaid to the University by the employee will be calculated based on the length of time that the employee has been back at work and expenditure incurred.
- The Director of Human Resources has the discretion to waive the requirement to repay the paid parental leave/ex-gratia payment on compassionate grounds, on written application from the individual.
- The application must have the approval of the relevant Head of Department, Manager or Dean.
- Where the expiry date of a fixed-term agreement is less than six months from the return to work from parental leave, the employee will not in the first instance be eligible for any payment. However, if a further appointment is offered and accepted, application can then be made.
- Any paid parental leave entitlements for research funded employees, which cannot be met within the research group, should be funded by the host Department and supplemented, if necessary, by financial support from the Division or School (in Health Sciences).
- An employee who is absent on paid parental leave for less than twelve weeks can receive payment only for the number of working days absent.
- While on Parental Leave an employee’s job must be kept open unless a redundancy situation occurs under a Management of Change process, or the job is a key position and a temporary replacement is not reasonably practicable.
- The employee’s job may be filled on a temporary basis.
- For the purpose of calculating leave entitlements, service while on parental leave is unbroken.
- Annual leave and sick leave will accrue while an employee is on parental leave.
- Subject to the employee returning from parental leave, payment of such leave will be calculated based on their normal pay rate and FTE applying prior to their taking leave.
- Time on leave should not affect seniority or status including eligibility for consideration for promotion or progression.
- Should an employee not return from parental leave, annual leave for final pay purposes will be calculated in accordance with the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987. The last day of employment and last day of annual leave accrues until the employees last day of work prior to commencing parental leave.
- The University is required to take into account the possible loss of paid parental leave when compiling the redundancy package for a pregnant employee who has applied for parental leave and has, or would have had, the application approved, and to compensate the employee accordingly.
Reduced hours prior to commencing leave
- Pregnant employees preparing to go on parental leave may wish to work reduced hours during the last few weeks of work before their intended departure, for reasons directly related to the pregnancy.
- Changes to work hours should be discussed and negotiated with the relevant HoD/Dean/Manager, and a Change of FTE / Hours form completed.
Return to work
- An employee absent on parental leave is required to give at least one month’s notice in writing of their intention to return to work.
- Employees returning from a period of parental leave may wish to work reduced hours for a period or take up a part-time position within the University.
- Departments are encouraged to take a sympathetic view of employees’ circumstances and have regard to the University’s policies on Equal Employment Opportunities and Flexible Working Arrangements when negotiating variations to normal working hours, either before the period of leave, or on return to work. Any agreement reached should protect the best interests of the parent/s, child and the department.
Employment while on parental leave
- Employees are only permitted to work a limited number of keeping in touch days while on any form of paid parental leave (either from the Government or the University), and only in agreement with the University.
- Keeping in touch days cannot take place within the first 28 days of leave and cannot exceed 64 hours during the total period of parental leave.
- If any work is undertaken in the first 28 days, or if the total number of hours exceeds 64 hours, the employee will be considered to have returned to work. However, this does not apply to leave taken while qualifying for or receiving Government preterm baby parental leave payments.
- Any such work should be initiated by the employee and must not be confused with a graduated return to work.
- A person’s right to have their job protected in accordance with the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 will not be diminished by them undertaking part-time work during parental leave in accordance with this section.
- Employees should be protected from pressure to work while on unpaid leave. Human resources will be available to help both the employee and the department reach an agreement that protects the best interests of the parent/carer, child.
Not returning to work
- An employee who decided not to return to work from parental leave is required to provide the normal period of notice as per their employment agreement, or 21 days’ notice, whichever is the greater.
Re-employment within the University after absence due to childcare
- Applications for re-employment from employees who have taken parental leave under the terms of this policy but resigned from the University to care for an under school age child or children will be given full consideration provided that the applicant has the necessary skills and qualifications to competently fill a vacancy which is available in the University.
- Application under this provision must be made to an advertised vacancy within four years from the date of resignation, that is, prior to the sixth birthday of the child for whom the employee was the primary carer.
- Where the above criteria are met and provided that the individual has primarily been involved with caring for their preschool aged children (that is, has not been in regular paid employment) then departments are encouraged to shortlist these applicants.
- Application under this provision is at the discretion of the applicant. It is their duty to alert selection panels to their application under this provision; otherwise, no concession will be made.
Flexibility and variations to policy
- Employees are encouraged to take up the various kinds of leave available that best suits their needs.
- Any leave plan must comply with both the University’s policy and current legislation.
- Negotiation with the Head of Department or appropriate manager should also take place to ensure that the best interests of the department are protected as far as possible.
- Small or under resourced departments which do not have the ability to offer any flexibility must be assisted by the Division or School (in Health Sciences) to provide flexible working options, either through financial support, or by sharing resources from elsewhere in the Division or School.
- The Director, Human Resources has the discretion, under exceptional circumstances, to authorise variations to the parental leave policy. Any application for variation to the policy should be made in writing to the Director, Human Resources, and, if appropriate, should be endorsed by the Head of Department, Manager or Dean.
Application for leave
- Notice of intention to take any type of leave under the Parental Leave Policy for a birth parent or their partner or spouse.
- Notice of leave must be made in writing to the University on the Parental Leave Application Form, stating types of leave required, proposed dates of leave and whether leave is being shared with a partner.
- A certificate signed by a medical practitioner or midwife certifying the expected date of delivery must accompany the application.
- Notice of intention to take leave must be provided at least three months in advance.
- Notice of intention to take leave under the Parental Leave Policy for adoption, whāngai and Pacific customary adoptions.
- Notice of intention to take leave for adoptive parents must be made in writing to the University at/or around the time of acceptance as approved adoptive parents and must again be given as soon as it is confirmed that a child is available for adoption.
- A letter from a social worker, a court order, or a statutory declaration stating that the primary carer will be caring for a child that will be adopted, must accompany the application as proof of adoption.
- In cases where a primary carer does not have the proof of adoption outlined in clause 15(b)ii, the primary carer must sign the appropriate University declaration form stating that they have or will assume the primary responsibility for the care, development and upbringing of a child.
- For the purpose of this policy, adoption is deemed to incorporate whāngai and Pacific customary adoption practices.
- Notice of intention to take leave under the Parental Leave Policy in all other circumstances.
- Notice of intention to take leave must be made in writing to the University at least three months in advance.
- A letter from a social worker, a court order, a statutory declaration, or a letter from the chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development or an organisation approved by them under section 396 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, confirming the date on which the person became or will become the primary carer in respect of the child, must accompany the application as proof of the assumption of responsibility for care of a child.
- Where multiple people meet the definition of Primary Carer.
- If multiple people meet the definition of Primary Carer of a child, they must jointly nominate one primary carer who will be the person who is entitled to parental leave under this policy. The primary carer may share leave with their partner or spouse.
- Late Applications.
- Employees who do not apply for leave within the required timeframe, and for whom unforeseen circumstances arise, may apply for parental/partner’s leave at short notice provided that supporting evidence accompanies the application.
- Notice of intention to take any type of leave under the Parental Leave Policy for a birth parent or their partner or spouse.
Related policies, procedures and forms
- Parental Leave application forms and further information
- Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987
- More information on Government parental leave payments, and eligibility
Contact for further information
If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact:
HR Services (Shared Services)
Contact the HR Administrators (Shared Services) team