Under the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987, both men and women may take unpaid leave from their jobs to care for a young child. In addition, female employees can take up to 14 weeks government-funded paid parental leave.
To qualify for parental leave you must have been working with your employer for at least ten hours per week over the last 12 months or six months in the case of maternity or paternity leave prior to the date of birth or adoption. Maternity leave may start up to six weeks before the birth or adoption of the baby.
Paternity leave of up to two weeks is available to the mother's partner (including same sex partners) at the time of the birth or adoption of the child. The hours test applies to the mother's partner and the mother may transfer some of her paid leave to her partner if she so wishes.
Extended leave can be available to both partners (inclusive of any matenrity or extended paternity leave already taken) during the first year after the birth or adoption of the child. Most organisations will have a clear and correct procedure for employees to apply for maternity/paternity leave and specific information that is required to accompany this application. Employers cannot dismiss an employee just because they are pregnant, intend to take parnetal leave or are on parental leave. If an employer breaches the Parental Leave Act, employees have a right to complain and to take their case to an Employment Relations Authority.