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Holidays and leave

There are different rules for different types of leave. Understanding your obligations as an employer makes it easier to work out leave entitlements and approve leave applications — leading to happier, more productive employees.

On this page:


Holidays and leave at a glance

All employees working in New Zealand are legally covered by the Holidays Act (2003). The Act requires that:

  • as an employer, you keep accurate records of the time and days worked and any leave accrued and taken for all employees
  • all employees can take annual leave (depending how long they’ve worked for you)
  • all employees are given sick leave and bereavement leave
  • all employees get paid leave on public holidays, if they would normally work on that day
  • employees can take paid and unpaid parental leave (depending on their circumstances).


Annual leave

All employees are entitled to at least four weeks of paid annual holidays (or the pro rata equivalent for part-time or casual staff). This doesn’t include public holidays or sick leave.

Read more about annual leave.


Paying employees for leave

With the right systems in place, you shouldn’t have too much trouble working out what to pay your employees when they take leave. It’s important to:

  • keep all time and wage records up-to-date and accurate
[image] calculator

Get your calculations right — use a calculator like the one supplied by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

  • understand what your employees are entitled to — especially those who work irregular or part-time hours.

Read more about paying employees for leave.


Public holidays

When a public holiday falls on a day your employee would usually work, they’re entitled to a paid day off, no matter how long they’ve been working for you. If they agree to work anyway, you must:

  • pay them at least time and a half and
  • give them another paid day off later (a day in lieu).

Read more about public holidays.


Sick leave

All employees are entitled to at least five days’ paid sick leave each year. You must also:

  • carry over unused sick leave into the next year. The maximum accumulation is 20 days — although you can provide more if you want to
  • let employees use sick leave to care for a spouse, partner, dependent child or elderly parent
  • pay employees what they’d usually earn for the days they’re on sick leave.

Read more about sick leave.


Bereavement leave

Once they’ve worked for you for six months, employees are entitled to paid bereavement leave of:

  • three days if their partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or their partner’s parent dies
  • one day on the death of a person outside their immediate family (if you accept that your employee is suffering bereavement).

They’re allowed to take their bereavement leave at any time and for any reason that relates to the death.

Read more about bereavement leave.


Parental leave

Employees who’ve worked for you for six months or more are entitled to 16 weeks of government-paid parental leave. Employees who’ve worked for you for longer than 12 months are also entitled to take up to 52 weeks of unpaid parental leave — you must keep their job open for them for 52 weeks from the date they start their leave.

Read more about parental leave.


Unpaid leave

Employees can apply for unpaid leave for any reason — but it’s totally up to you whether or not to agree to it.

If you let an employee take unpaid leave of more than a week throughout the year, you’ll need to consider how it will affect their annual leave entitlements and payment calculations.

Read more about unpaid leave.


More information: