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Dads Toolbox : Government assistance

Money to help raise baby

Paid and unpaid parental leave and other government $ help

Click here for a very simple questionaire that will tell you what you and you partner are entitled to in terms of parental leave.

Paid Parental Leave

Paid Parental Leave is the mother’s entitlement (and financial encouragement) to take time off work to care for their baby. She can transfer this entitlement to her partner, if that works better for their family.

Paid Parental Leave payment amounts either match the amount of the parent’s regular pay – up to a maximum of $606.46 per week (as of May 2021).

Paid Parental Leave is paid for a maximum of 26 weeks (as of May 2021).


Parents need to decide what leave they are intending to take before the baby is born. This is so

  • that payments can start on time

  • and so that the employer has time to make  adjustments for when the parent will be away from work

For the parent taking paid parental leave, their employer is required to hold their job open for them to return to for up to 52 weeks. This means that the parent can take the baby's whole first year off work - while receiving paid parental leave for the first six months and nothing for the next six months. The employee must tell their employer about how much time they will be taking before they start the leave.

There are two exceptions in which employers do not have to hold a job open:

  • If the employer classifies the position as “key” and they declare that they cannot operate the business without filling the position with a permanent employee.

    • Such a key parent/employee is only be entitled to 4 weeks leave from work. After that (and up to 26 weeks after the parental leave started) if the employer needs to fill the position, they must first offer the job back to the employee. If the parent/employee doesn’t accept the offer, then the employer no longer has to hold the position open for them and can hire someone else.

  • If the position is made redundant while the employee was away – and therefore there is no position for the employee to return to.


Any employee who is on leave can still be dismissed for serious misconduct, the same as they could be if they were not on leave.

Unpaid Parental Leave

Non-paid Parental Leave entitles one parent to have their job held for them for a maximum of 52 weeks. Non-paid parental leave may be added on to their end of any paid parental leave.


To have their job held for them, this parent must be going to be the main caregiver or take over from the main caregiver. This isn't automatic and the parent must come to an arrange with their employer. To qualify to have their job held for them, they would have to …

  • Have been working for an average of 10 hours per week for the same employer for the last 52 weeks, or,

  • If they worked for more than one employer, they worked an average of at least 10 hours per week for the same employer for at least 26 weeks of the previous 52 weeks.


Other government support:

Best Start

All families qualify for Best Start payments of $60/week for the baby’s first year and - depending on other income - may go on until the child turns three. The payment goes the main care giving parent.


  • Best Start payments start after paid parental leave ends, it is not additional to it.

  • You may be eligible for Best Start up until they turn 3 depending on your income. If your income is over $70,000, your Best Start amount begins to decrease and disappears if the income level is above abut $95,000 (as of May 2021)

  • You can register for Best Start when you register the birth of your baby.

Best start gets rolled in to Working for Families and is administered by the IRD.

Working for Families

Most families who are in paid work (not receiving an income-tested benefit) qualify for Working for Families. It can begin when you register the birth and goes on while your child is financially dependent on you until they are 18 years old.

Working for Families is income tested. Your eligibility and how much it is depends on the type and amount of income you earn. Working for Families is available for:

  • Almost all families with children earning under $65,000 a year

  • Many families with children earning up to $80,000 a year

  • Some larger families earning more than $80,000.

best start
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