Resolving parental leave issues
If problems arise, use the following steps. You and your employer may be able to resolve the problem yourselves.
- Be clear about the facts Check your facts and make sure you have not assumed or misunderstood something.
- Talk to your employer Discuss the problem with your supervisor at work. You can ask a friend, relative or colleague to support you in the discussion. You can also ask your union or another representative to approach your employer for you. Discuss the facts so that you clear up any assumptions or misunderstandings.
- Clarify whether you still have a problem, and if so what it is Do not delay this step. You might want to discuss the problem with family or friends or advisers. You may need to refer to your employment agreement and the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987.
- Next steps If you are unable to resolve the problem through a discussion with your employer, you can do some or all of the following things:
- You can contact the Department of Labour on 0800 20 90 20. Our staff can provide further information and advice and/or refer you to mediation.
- You can participate in mediation provided by the Department of Labour (or agree with the employer to get your own mediator). If you reach agreement, a mediator provided by the Department of Labour can sign the agreed settlement, and that will be final and binding.
- If the dispute relates to the amount of leave or level of payment, a Labour Inspector can investigate for you. Contact details for Labour Inspectors are available here or by calling 0800 20 90 20 during business hours.
- If the problem cannot be resolved with your employer, you can take it to the Employment Relations Authority for a decision (see below). If you are not satisfied with Authority’s decision, you can go to the Employment Court for a judicial hearing. However, before you approach the Authority or Employment Court you must put your complaint in writing.
Making a complaint to the Employment Relations Authority
If mediation does not resolve the problem, or you are not satisfied with the result of a Labour Inspector’s investigation into the level of payment, you can take a parental leave complaint to the Employment Relations Authority for investigation.
You can complain if your employer:
- Wrongly tells you that you are not entitled to parental leave
- Refuses to keep your job open without good reason
- Dismisses you because you are pregnant or assuming the care of a child with a view to adoption, or for reasons connected with you or your spouse/partner’s parental leave
- Does something to disadvantage you in respect of your parental leave rights
- Unfairly tells you to start maternity leave early for safety reasons or because he or she believes you cannot do your work adequately
- Unfairly transfers you to another job for safety reasons or because she or he believes you cannot do your work adequately.
A complaint must be made before the latest of:
- 26 weeks after the action you are complaining about
- 26 weeks after the expected date of birth
- Eight weeks after the end of your parental leave.
You can also apply to the Employment Relations Authority for a review of a decision made by the Department of Labour about your eligibility for a parental leave payment. An application for review must be made within 12 months of the date on which you were notified of the decision. The Authority may confirm, modify, or reverse the decision of the Department.
Where can I get further help?
The Department of Labour has developed a web-based calculator to help you calculate your entitlements. It is customised to provide clear advice to birth mothers and their spouses/partners, and employers. Or phone the Department of Labour on 0800 20 90 20 during business hours.
When complete, the calculator provides a full outline of your entitlement (based on the information you have provided) and gives instructions on how to access that entitlement.
You can also get help by contacting:
- Your union
- Employers’ organisations
- Citizens Advice Bureaux
- Community law centres.
Human Rights Commission
You can contact the Human Rights Commission if you think you have been discriminated against:
- Call free on 0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS (0800 496 877) or email email@example.com
- Visit the Commission’s website at www.hrc.co.nz
- TTY (Teletypewriter 0800 150 111)
Many people, including employers, can help employees balance family and paid work responsibilities. The EEO Trust, jointly funded by employers and government, has information and suggestions.
Contact the Trust at:
Ellerslie Tower, Level 5, 56 Cawley Street, Ellerslie, Auckland
P O Box 12 929, Penrose, Auckland 1135
Tel: (09) 525 3023 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit the website: www.eeotrust.org.nz
You can also:
- Check for créche facilities in or near your workplace when planning your leave
- Make use of parent support organisations or agencies.