Parental leave and childcare

Payments for primary carers

There are two main government funded entitlements for primary carers; paid parental leave and the parental tax credit. Primary carers who qualify will receive either paid parental leave or the parental tax credit, but not both.

For information on these payments see Inland Revenue’s guide Congratulations on your new baby.

Parental leave for new parents in paid work

If you are in paid work, including self-employment, and want to take parental leave from that work to care for a new child, the following resources may be helpful:

Smartsafe has comprehensive information for new parents including about parental leave.

Employment New Zealand’s parental leave webpages has

  • information about what parental leave is, the rights and obligations of employers, employees and self-employed people
  • information about types of parental leave including primary carer leave, partner leave and special leave for women who are pregnant
  • a table of parental leave eligibility and a tool to determine parental leave eligibility
  • the current parental leave entitlements, (maternity leave, special leave, partner/paternity leave, extended leave, and paid parental leave)
  • sample letters to apply for  parental leave and forms and sample letters for employers' responses.

Inland Revenue has application forms for parental leave payments and more information about parental leave payments. 


Childcare, encompassing out of school care (OSCAR) and early childhood education (ECE), is a key enabler of women’s participation in the labour market.

ECE is important both for children’s education outcomes and as an enabler of carers’ participation in work. ECE helps to ensure an adequate net return from paid employment, and is important for women’s economic independence.

The Ministry of Education has information about Early Childhood Education including choosing an ECE service and finding one in your area.

There is also information about 20 Hours ECE, a subsidy which can help with the cost of ECE if your ECE service is part of the scheme.

OSCAR – which stands for ‘out of school care and recreation’ – is a government–subsidised before school, after school, and school holiday programme, usually for 5-13 year olds. Your child’s school should be able to help with finding and enrolling in a programme.

In 2012, the Ministry for Women commissioned a selective review of the evidence about the labour participation of mothers in response to changes in early childhood education costs. This found a general consensus that labour force participation among mothers of pre-school children is sensitive to childcare costs.