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Paid parental leave extended from 18 weeks to 22 weeks on Sunday, 1 July. This is the first step in the Government’s plan to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks by 2020.

Maximum weekly payments have also increased by 4.7 percent, in line with an increase in the nation’s average weekly earnings. The maximum rate for eligible employees and self-employed parents have increased from $538.55 to $564.38 gross per week.

The paid parental leave extension aims to support working families with newborns and young children and help reduce financial stress. It will allow more time for bonding with their children for those carers who are not in a position to take additional unpaid leave. It will also help to ensure babies can be breastfed for the first six months, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Parents of babies due or delivered from 1 July 2018 are eligible for the increased paid parental leave. The Inland Revenue Department processes paid parental leave payments. For more information and to apply, visit their website.

Keeping in Touch days have also increased. These allow parents to do limited work while on parental leave, if they choose to, for example to attend a team day or change announcement. The number of Keeping in Touch days increased from 40 to 52 hours from Sunday, 1 July.

For employers, the changes have minimal impact. Businesses are already required to provide a minimum 26 weeks in job-protected unpaid leave for eligible employees.

To apply for paid parental leave, visit the Inland Revenue Department.