Supporting growing families and careers


The Co-op is changing the way it’s supporting working parents by expanding parental leave benefits for New Zealand-based employees.

  • Employees will have their government parental leave payments topped up to 100% of base salary or wages for 26 weeks (for primary carers who meet the 12-month employment criteria). This is an increase from the current 16 weeks at 80%.
  • Employees returning from parental leave will be paid a one-off KiwiSaver employer contribution of 3% of the salary they would have received during their unpaid parental leave period.
  • A package of wraparound support for parents will be provided when they return, to make sure they have a smoother transition back to work

It’s about caring for employees by making sure their whānau gets the best start in life and being Good Together, from one generation to the next.

Cilla Duncan, Senior Business Partner, Communications with her wife and firstborn

It’s also an important step towards giving primary carers equity in the workplace in terms of salary, career and retirement savings.

Haylee Putaranui, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion says it brings Good Together to life, “especially our principles of whanaugatanga and manaakitanga; how we care for our people through one of the most important roles and times of their lives as parents.

“Being parents, whether first time or many times, is always a mix of joy, change, challenge and adaption. The lift in paid parental leave (including KiwiSaver) is the headline act of this change but it is the continuous wraparound support, for parents and managers, which matters as well.”

That wraparound support means giving returning parents flexibility so they can better manage their work lives around their families and employees have a clear line of communication with their managers.

The Co-op also recognises that families come in different shapes and sizes, and this expanded leave helps to accommodate the diversity of our workforce.

“We know that women are often more impacted when they have their children and men are not always seen as primary carers, so there are elements of minimising these impacts and challenging outdated stereotypes as well to make our workplaces work for everyone”, Haylee says.

Cilla Duncan, Senior Business Partner, Communications is pregnant with her second child and will be going on parental leave in October. She says the expanded leave package has changed the way she and her wife plan for the first 12 months of their newborn’s life.

There are elements of minimising these impacts and challenging outdated stereotypes as well to make our workplaces work for everyone.

Haylee Putaranui, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, fonterra

“I respect businesses that go beyond what’s required of them to look after their people and I feel fortunate to be one of those who will benefit. I had a big smile on my face when I found out the news.

“I’ve watched too many friends and family go back to work a lot earlier than they would’ve wanted. When businesses step in to provide extra support, I think there are so many benefits at both an individual and societal level – from reducing stress for new parents, to helping tackle the gender pay gap”, says Cilla.

It'll make a big difference in terms of giving Cilla and her wife more freedom and flexibility in the way they manage care for their second child.

“I loved the year off that I had with our firstborn in 2019 and I’m planning to do the same for our second, due in October. The biggest difference this time is that my wife, who does contract work, will be able to reduce her hours more as we juggle everything in those crazy first few months.”

Farm Relationship Advisor, Sapphire Heke, is pregnant with her third child and is going on parental leave starting next week. She says the expanded leave is a “game changer” for her family.

“When I was told about this I immediately felt a sense of relief – like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Excitement then kicked in next, thinking about how I now have peace of mind in terms of money, on top of everything else.”

When Sapphire had her other two children over a decade ago, things were very different. She says this time she’ll be able to be there for all her newborn’s milestones.

Sapphire Heke, Farm Relationship Advisor, Farm Source

“In my previous workplace there was no employer parental payments at all, only the government’s 16 weeks’ payment. This put a huge amount of pressure on us as a whānau and I felt that I needed to return to work immediately after payments were due to finish when both of our daughters were a mere 16 weeks old. This time I feel blessed that I will be able to enjoy the milestones and moments I missed out on years ago without the guilt, pressure and unhealthy expectations that we often put on ourselves.”

Sapphire’s already had conversations with her manager about her return to work in a year’s time, which means she’ll be able to be more flexible around her family’s needs.

“Hearing that there will also be a lump sum payment for Kiwisaver was the icing on the cake. This will help our whanau achieve our long-term goal of becoming first time homeowners in the very near future.”