Introduction to 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.
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 for all employees of the hours worked each day in a pay period and the pay for those hours, and leave accrued, entitled leave and leave taken
- 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.
For more information on keeping accurate records, visit Employment New Zealand's Keeping accurate records (external link).
All employees are entitled to at least four weeks of paid annual holidays. This doesn’t include public holidays or sick leave.
Annual leave has more information.
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 wage and time records and holiday and leave records up-to-date and accurate.
- Get your calculations right, use Employment New Zealand's Holiday tool (external link).
- Understand what your employees are entitled to — especially those who work irregular or part-time hours.
Paying employees for leave has more information.
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
- give them another paid day off later (a day in lieu).
Public holidays has more about holidays.
Once they've worked for you for six months, 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, elderly parent or other dependant
- pay employees what they’d usually earn for the days they’re on sick leave.
Read more about sick 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 has suffered a 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.
Employees may be entitled to 22 weeks of government-funded parental leave payments. Employees who’ve worked for you for six months (for an average of at least 10 hours a week) are also entitled to take up to 26 weeks of unpaid parental leave.
They can take up to 12 months if they’ve worked for at least 10 hours a week for a year or more. Workers who have worked for you for less than six months may also be entitled to parental leave, in certain situations.
Parental leave has information on who can take it.
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.
Unpaid leave has more information.
Working out what you need to pay employees when they’re taking leave can be complicated – but with the right systems and processes in place, it doesn’t have to be difficult.