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Prisoner's rights


Returning to work

Can I go back to my job after my baby is born?

Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987, ss 31, 40, 41

Usually, yes. When you are on leave, your employer generally has to keep your job open for you until you come back to work. Your workplace can hire a temporary replacement but this person must be told their position is only temporary.

In some situations your employer may be able to permanently replace you, for example, if your position is the key job in the organisation.

If your job can’t be kept open during the time you’re on parental leave, your employer must give you preference for re-employment after your parental leave ends. This means you get the first chance at a similar job if it comes up.

I agreed with my employer to return to my job after nine months. Can I go back earlier if I want to?

Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987, s 45

You can go back to work earlier than the date you agreed on with your employer for the following reasons:

  • you are no longer the primary carer for the child,
  • the pregnancy does not happen (for example if you have a miscarriage), or
  • your employer agrees to you returning earlier.

Can I go back to work later?

Yes, if your employer agrees. Although paid parental leave is limited, so you may not be able to be paid for further time off.

Can I work while I’m on parental leave?

Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987, s 71CE

If you work while you’re on parental leave, you may lose the right to your parental leave payments (and have to pay them back).

However, you and your employer can agree for you to work from time to time (such as to attend meetings). These days are called “Keeping-in-touch” days and are there to make sure you don’t feel like you’re behind when you do go back to work.

You’ll have to repay your parental leave if:

  • you take a keeping in touch day in the first 28 days after your child is born, or
  • you work more than 64 hours throughout your whole parental leave payment period (which could be up to 26 weeks)

If your child is born early, you may be able to work more than 64 hours throughout the whole parental leave payment period.

Can I return with reduced hours?

Parental leave and employment protection act 1987, s 69AAC

You can ask your employer to reduce your hours of work and your employer must consider your request. You should make the request in writing and be specific about how you like to reduce your hours (for example, by saying that you want to work 9 am to 4 pm).

If your employer refuses your request, they have to tell you why they cannot give you reduced hours.

Can I breastfeed/pump at work?

Employment Relations (Breaks, Infant Feeding and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2008, Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 69X – 69ZB

Yes. Employers must provide you with an appropriate space to breastfeed/pump as well as regular breaks. However, breaks that are extra to your usual work breaks may not be paid.

My employer went back on their word and didn’t keep my job open, what should I do?

Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987, s 57

If you have any complaint relating to parental leave, you should tell your immediate supervisor and ask them to help you with your problem. It’s best you do this in writing.

Your local Community Law Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau can help you write down your complaint.

Did this answer your question?

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide initial free legal advice and information.

Also available as a book

Pregnancy Rights

A basic, plain language guide that contains practical answers to questions about pregnancy and the law. It covers sex and consent, options after a positive pregnancy test, what help you can get with school, work, and parenting and more. Pregnancy Rights is written for young pregnant people, their whānau and advocates.

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