Student pregnancy, maternity and paternity

Guidance for students who are pregnant, or supporting a partner who is pregnant, during the course of your studies.

About this guide

The University is committed to making as many accomodations as possible to ensure that the impact on your studies/career will be minimised during pregnancy and for the duration of maternity or paternity leave.

This guide also indicates the support that you can expect from staff in your area of study and in the wider University before, during and after having children.

Risk assessments

If you become pregnant while at the University, you'll very likely need to complete a risk assessment. If you are instructed to do one (following the guidance below), you can find helpful information in our dedicated risk assessments section. There is even an example risk assessment there.

If you become pregnant

Considerations: Initial communication

Action

  • You are strongly encouraged to inform your supervisor and school of your pregnancy as soon as possible.
  • Arrange an appointment with your GP, student health service or a midwife as soon as possible.

Liase with

  • Research supervisor(s)
  • Your school's Equity representative

More information

Considerations: Health and safety

Action

Complete a workplace risk assessment. Compile a list of chemicals and substances that you may handle during your research. This should include any tasks to be avoided during pregnancy, such as lifting and handling. In addition, if working in a laboratory or workshop, acquire the safety information (MSDSs).

  • Using the GHS hazard statements, identify those that have a specific risk for pregnancy, fertility or breastfeeding.
  • Identify those that are highly toxic, carcinogenic, teratogenic etc.
  • Look at a compiled list of common chemicals to double check.

Discuss potential workplace exposures with a medical specialist.

Your supervisor will assist you to develop strategies to eliminate exposure to any chemicals and substances that have been flagged (e.g.):

  • Review and reinforce safety equipment and handling protocols
  • Modify your project to avoid exposure
  • Find a safer place to execute your experiments temporarily
  • Use extreme precaution, for example when wearing a respirator.

Discuss potential research issues with research group and other lab mates.

Liase with

  • Research supervisor(s)
  • Health and safety committee
  • Contact your school's technical manager

More information

Considerations: International students

Action

If you require a visa to remain in NZ during your period of study, you must inform the International Students Office.

You may be required to suspend your studies. If the period is longer than three months, your visa may be cancelled and you will have to apply for a new visa to return to NZ.

Liase with

  • Graduate office

For more information

Considerations: Postgraduate research students on scholarship

Action

If you are a recipient of a scholarship or have funding from a research council or other external body, you should refer to the terms and conditions relating to your award.

Students funded from University grants are entitled to take unpaid maternity leave (suspension).

Liase with

Consideration: Confidentiality

Action

Information concerning your pregnancy should be treated sensitively and should only be passed on with your consent, unless strictly necessary and on a need-to-know basis.

During pregnancy

Consideration: Time to attend healthcare appointments

Actions

Consult with your research supervisor(s) and follow the usual procedures for reporting absences.

Liase with

Supervisors

Consideration: Pregnancy-related absence

Actions

  • Consult with your research supervisor(s) and follow the usual procedures for reporting absences.
  • Consideration will have to be given to the potential impact of any pregnancy-related absence on your academic progress.

Liase with

  • Supervisor(s)

Considerations: Placements, field trips and study abroad

  • If you are due to complete any placements, fieldwork or study abroad your school will need to confirm with all relevant parties (e.g. collaborators, airlines, insurance companies) that any travel is to go ahead as planned.
  • Undertake a health and safety risk assessment on the activity where necessary.
  • You may be required to provide a fitness to travel declaration from your doctor.
  • Under some circumstances, you may not be able to complete that particular component of your programme as planned, so alternatives will have to be explored.

Liase with

  • Supervisor(s)
  • Collaborator(s)

Considerations: Examinations and assessments

Actions

  • Where alternative examination arrangments are required due to your pregnancy, you should apply for these in the usual way according to your school’s procedure.
  • In situations where your pregnancy or maternity may have an impact on your ability to complete examinations or other assessments in the usual way, your school should consider alternative methods of assessment that will test the same learning outcomes.

Liase with

Maternity-related absence

Actions

  • You are strongly recommended to request a period of maternity-related absence following the birth of your child.
  • Inform your school as soon as possible on your intentions related to a period of maternity-related absence.

Liase with

  • Head of School
  • Supervisor(s)

More information

Postgraduate suspension forms

Return to study

Actions

  • You should agree your return to study date with your supervisor(s) and school prior to commencing the period of maternity-related absence.
  • You are responsible for informing your school of any intended change to the agreed date of return.
  • Consult available resources for parents and carers.

Liase with

More information

Parenting support and childcare

Hardship support

Paternity

Consideration: Time off study for attending prescribed antenatal appointments, assisting with medical complications and paternity leave

Actions

  • Consult with your research supervisor(s) and follow the usual procedures for reporting absences.
  • Inform your school if you would like to request a period of paternity-related absence.
  • Any requests for a paternity-related suspension will be considered in accordance with your current faculty procedure on suspension of studies (and may have financial implications).

Liase with

  • Supervisor(s)

For more information