Parental leave changes 'good news for employers'

Parental leave changes 'good news for employers'

Employers should welcome tomorrow's changes to paid parental leave, according to one employment lawyer.

Jennifer Mills says despite the changes being overwhelmingly good for employees and new parents, bosses should get in right behind them.

From tomorrow, paid parental leave:

Ms Mills says the winners include: "Employees who have recently changed jobs, casual workers, seasonal workers, fixed-term employees, employees who have multiple employers, people other than biological parents who have the primary and permanent responsibility for the care of a child under six, and also carers of pre-term babies."

Unpaid leave will also be able to be taken flexibly, allowing workers to ease their way back into work without losing future entitlements.

There are now also 'Keeping in Touch' days, which let employees go back to work for up to 40 hours a week during their paid leave.

"These hours could be used to keep up with skills development or training or completing a work handover, and can help the parent ease back into work," reads the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

Any primary caregiver of a child will be able to apply for parental leave now too.

"It's not just a biological mother, the spouse or the partner anymore -- it's anyone who has the primary, permanent responsibility for the care and upbringing of a child under six," says Ms Mills.

"It'll cover the whanau arrangements, it'll cover CYF home-for-life parents, it'll cover grandma and granddad who take the primary, permanent responsibility for the care of a child -- not grandma and granddad who just look after them in the day."

The new regime also makes it easier for parents who aren't planning to go back to work to be up-front with their boss about their intentions. New parents can now resign their positions without losing their entitlements.

"That's great now, because employers can go out and recruit a permanent replacement, and the mother's now not thinking, 'Well I want to resign, I don't want to return, but I need to hang in there until I've had my Government subsidy paid out until I resign,'" says Ms Mills.

"This is good news for employers."

Finance Minister Bill English on Tuesday said employers may have to be a little more flexible, but he hasn't heard any complaints about the changes.

"I think people regard it as just part of the diverse workplace… the cost of doing business."

The new changes are explained in full on the MBIE website.