Can employees return to work early from parental leave?

Can employees return to work early from parental leave?

(Submitted by Employment New Zealand)
During COVID-19, some of your employees on parental leave may want to return to work early for financial or other reasons. Employment New Zealand has guidance on the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees in these situations.
You and your employee must act in good faith to make sure an early return benefits both parties. As an employer, you must be clear whether an employee's return to work is occasional, temporary or permanent.

Occasional return to work
If you agree, your employee on parental leave can return to paid work on occasional days, using 'keeping in touch' days. The employee can do a maximum of 64 hours paid work during their parental leave payment period, and cannot work within the first 28 days after their child is born.

Recent temporary law changes also allow some employees to return for up to 12 weeks without losing their remaining entitlement to parental leave, and its associated payments and protections. For more information visit (search keywords: "Keeping in touch days" and "parental leave and Covid").

Permanent return to work
Generally, employees on parental leave can only return to work early if you agree. In some cases, your employee may return early without your agreement if they or their spouse or partner are no longer the primary carer or the child is miscarried, stillborn or dies. Your employee must request in writing at least 21 days before the date they want to return to work.

More information
For information about parental leave and associated entitlements such as government-funded parental leave payments, visit the Employment New Zealand website, (search words: "Parental leave" and "Returning to work").