Parental leave boosters are trending among employers

More generous benefits, including KiwiSaver contributions, seen as a growing way to attract and retain talent

Parental leave boosters are trending among employers

Parental leave benefits are getting a boost from employers across New Zealand as HR teams explore every pathway to attract and retain talent in a tight labour market.

This week, energy giant Contact Energy announced its new parental leave policy, describing it as one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching parental leave policies in the country.

The comprehensive package includes both primary carer and partner benefits that include cash, flexibility, extra time off, free electricity, and a food package once the baby has arrived. It also maintains the KiwiSaver employer contribution of 3% for the duration of parental leave

Jan Bibby, CPO at Contact Energy said: “As a mother of two and a grandmother of one, I am beyond proud of our ‘Growing your Whānau’ policy. We can’t help with those sleepless nights or comforting a baby during teething, but we can help by providing financial security and significant flexibility for our expectant parents who are part of our Contact whanau.”

KiwiSaver contribution plans on the rise

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) recently released data that showed only 8.9% of kiwi organisations with more than 20 employees top up the salary of staff who are on parental leave. Even fewer continue to contribute to KiwiSaver accounts during the leave.

But it’s clear that a growing number of employers see a long-term benefit to investing in supporting parents.

Earlier this month Vodafone announced updates to its parental leave offering, giving primary carers and partners 26 extra days of parental leave. Primary caregivers will also continue to receive their superannuation contribution.

Jodi King, chief people officer at Vodafone, said: “Our ‘freedom promise’ for employees means we’ll continue to offer choice to our people. We’ll have more to announce in the coming months as we build a world-class offer for our people.”

‘Doing the right thing’ by parents

One of Vodafone’s biggest competitors, 2degrees, announced last year that it would boost the amount of pay staff receive while on parental leave. 2degrees CPO Jodie Shelley attributed the move directly to attracting and retaining talent.

“The new parental leave policy was part of a wider strategy to attract and retain the brightest talent in an increasingly competitive market as well as doing the right thing by new parents,” said Shelley.

In its report on improving equity in the KiwiSaver, the NZIER recommended specifically that employers should “offer employees the benefit of continuing their KiwiSaver contribution while on parental leave.”

Contact Energy’s new policy drew comment from Jason Shoebridge, chief executive at NZIER.

“At NZIER we see the Contact Energy scheme as being particularly generous towards their staff. We have seen best practice in parental leave policies throughout the country and are taking note of Contact’s.”

Global Women chief executive, Agnes Naera also praised the move, “If we see more businesses continue to imbed systems like this that support employees to show up as their best selves both at work and at home and the myriad of pressures that come with this, it will have a positive impact on the economic future of Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Contact Energy’s full parental leave package

Primary carer benefits:

  • Salary Top-Up - to full salary for the 26-week Government paid parental leave period
  • KiwiSaver Employer contributions - 3% employer contribution for the duration of parental leave
  • 6 Months Flexible Working – returning employees can choose to work 80% of their normal weekly hours and still receive 100% of their normal weekly pay for the first 6 months
  • Childcare Koha - $5,000 (before tax) as a contribution toward childcare
  • 10 Days Paid Special Leave – pregnant employees will receive 10 days of paid special leave for pregnancy-related appointments
  • Annual Leave – paid at normal pay when employees return from parental leave
  • Fourth Trimester – 3 months of free electricity for employees who are Contact customers
  • Food Package:  Pre-prepared meals on the arrival of baby

Partner Benefits:

  • Partner’s Leave – four weeks paid leave which can be taken flexibly over 13 months
  • Fourth Trimester - 3 months of free electricity for employees who are Contact customers on eligible plans
  • Food Package:  Pre-prepared meals on the arrival of baby


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