A pregnant woman received erroneous advice from IRD on her eligibility for paid parental leave. Photo / 123rf

An expectant mother has been denied paid parental leave after acting on unwarranted advice from the Inland Revenue (IRD) about transitioning from employment to self-employment in the months leading up to her son’s birth.

Jade Chalmers was wrongly told by the IRD that she could quit her job, which she had had for 13 weeks, become self-employed while reaching the threshold for payment of parental leave.

She did so, only to be refused leave paid by the IRD and then again by the Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) when she pushed the case further.

It wasn’t until she filed a problem statement with the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) that the decision was overturned and she was granted leave.

Chalmers called the IRD three times before her son was born in September 2020.

She told a staff member that she had worked as an employee for the University of Waikato for 13 weeks and was about to become a freelance entrepreneur for a clinical psychologist.

In two calls, which were recorded, she asked if this would affect her rights to paid parental leave.

The IRD informed Chalmers that it could combine the two work periods, since the two
employee and as a self-employed worker, to reach the parental leave payment threshold test, in which 26 weeks of work are required.

Based on this advice, she quit her job at the University of Waikato and requested time off on August 7, 2020.

“However, upon receipt of Ms. Chalmers’ request, the IRD wrote to her
informing her that she was not entitled to paid parental leave because the test (…) did not allow her to combine her work with her work as an independent contractor, ”said a decision from the ‘ERA.

The IRD apologized to him in a letter but did not change its decision.

Chalmers asked MBIE to review the decision. He admitted that she had been badly advised by the IRD but did not grant her parental leave allowances because he does not have “discretionary power”.

MBIE stated that she did not meet the criterion of the threshold for payment of parental leave due to the
combination of employment and self-employment.

In November 2020, Chalmers successfully requested a formal review of the decision by the ERA.

“In this case, Ms Chalmers relied on incorrect advice provided by a government
department, ”ERA member Eleanor Robinson said in her report.

“I consider that Ms. Chalmers acted reasonably in relying on this advice and that it would be unfair … for her to be denied parental leave payments.

“I believe that it is appropriate to exercise the discretionary power of the Authority and
reverse MBIE’s decision that Ms. Chalmers was not entitled to paid parental leave. “

To be entitled to paid parental leave as a pregnant woman or new mother, you must work an average of 10 hours per week, at least 26 of the weeks of the year before your due date or the date on which the child is entrusted to you.

“It doesn’t matter how many employers you have or whether you were self-employed. However, you must be eligible as an employee or self-employed,” says the IRD on its website.

“You cannot combine the hours you worked as an employee with the hours you worked as a self-employed person. You can combine the hours of multiple jobs. “

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Source: www.nzherald.co.nz
This notice was published: 2021-07-24 23:01:58

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