Even with the mandating of the COVID vaccination for many organisations, employers still need to follow a process before deciding to terminate employment. An employer’s good faith obligations remain.
There have been many changes to employee leave entitlements over the last 12 months including parental leave provisions. On 1st July 2020, Government funded paid parental leave increased from 22 weeks to 26 weeks and keeping in touch days increased from 52 to 64 hours.
Employers are required to provide eligible employees with job-protected parental leave, with the length of leave determined by whether the employee meets the 6-month or 12-month eligibility criteria. For employees who meet the 12- month eligibility test, they will be entitled to 26 weeks Primary Carer Leave (includes 26 weeks paid parental leave period) and 52 weeks of Extended Leave (includes 26 weeks Primary Carer Leave if taken). For those who meet the 6-month eligibility test, employees will be entitled to 26 Primary Carer Leave (includes 26 weeks Paid Parental Leave). One of the key eligibility criteria is that the Employee must have worked for the Employer for at least an average of 10 hours a week for 6 or 12 months.
An employee must apply for Primary Carer Leave in writing to their employer a minimum of 3 months before their baby’s due date. Parental leave payment applications are completed by the employee directly with Inland Revenue New Zealand and the employer is not required to make these parental leave payments.
If an employee is intending to return to work (or not) following their parental leave, and their position remained open for them to return, they must provide their employer with at least 21 days’ notice before this leave ends.
Where an employer was unable to keep the employee’s position open for them to return, the employee must inform the employer at least 21 days before the date they will be available for work. This availability date then becomes the start of their 6 -month period of preference. During this period, if a similar position becomes available the employee will need to be given preference for this role.
Where an employee will be the primary carer of the child and meets the work time and hours criteria to receive parental leave payments but does not meet the criteria for parental leave with their current Employer, they can request consideration for negotiated carer leave. Employers must provide an answer as soon as possible and no longer than one month following receipt of the request.
Keeping in Touch Days
While an employee is on parental leave, they may agree with their employer to perform work from time to time during their paid parental leave period – Keeping in Touch Days. However, for an employee to remain eligible for their paid parental leave payments they must not work more than 64 hours during this period and the work must not be undertaken within the first 28 days after the child is born. If an employee works more than 64 hours or performs work within the first 28 days, they will be considered as returning to work and any parental leave payments after this will be considered overpayments.