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Minimum leave and holidays entitlements

Summary of minimum leave and holiday entitlements for employees.

All employees: part time, full time, fixed term and casual (but not including the Armed Forces) get at least:

  • four weeks of paid annual holidays (annual leave) each year for rest and recreation (some fixed-term and casual employees may get annual holidays on a ‘paid as you earn’ basis).  
  • 11 public holidays each year (if they are days they would otherwise work). These are days of national, religious or cultural significance, and employees should be able to take them as leave, where possible.
  • Access to sick leave and bereavement leave:
    • after six months of current continuous employment with the same employer, or
    • after working for the employer for six months for an average of 10 hours per week, and at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month.

If an employee has to work on a public holiday that work must be paid at no less than time and a half.

Payment for annual holidays is calculated differently from payment for public holidays, bereavement leave and sick leave (and employers must make sure that each is calculated correctly, if you are not sure, contact us).

If you are an employee having problems with getting your leave or holidays, you should discuss this with your employer first. If this doesn’t fix the problem, contact us.

A Labour Inspector may enforce the minimum rights in the Holidays Act 2003. The maximum penalties for breach of the minimum rights is $50,000 in the case of an individual. For companies the penalty is the greater of $100,000 or three times the amount of the financial gain made by the company.

If the annual holidays, bereavement or sick leave in an employment agreement is better than the minimum rights in the Holidays Act 2003 (for example, five weeks’ annual holidays, unlimited sick leave carry over from year to year etc), then an employee gets the leave in the employment agreement. If the leave under the Holidays Act 2003 is better than the employment agreement, or if the employment agreement doesn’t include specific outlines for that type of leave, then an employee gets what the Holidays Act 2003 provides.

The legislation sets a minimum for all holidays and other types of leave. Each entitlement stands alone and can’t be ‘traded off’ on a package basis. For example, an employer and employee can’t agree that the employee will give up their right to time and a half for work done on a public holiday in exchange for an extra week of annual holidays.

As an employer, if you would like assistance with drafting an employment agreement provision for leave, use the Employment Agreement Builder.

Members of the Armed Forces have different holiday and leave entitlements. This includes the Navy, Army and Air Force; but not the cadet forces.

If an employer dismisses an employee and then rehires them within 1 month, the employee’s employment is treated as being continuous for calculating sick leave, bereavement leave, public holidays and annual holidays (unless a Labour Inspector makes a decision that the employer acted in good faith, not to avoid their holidays and leave obligations).

For example, Ata is dismissed from her job on 24 December and her employer rehires her on 5 January. Ata’s employment is treated as being continuous for leave and holidays and her employer needs to work out her entitlement to the Christmas and New Year public holidays (depending on Ata’s work pattern). If they can’t work out her entitlement, they should contact us.

This doesn’t apply to employees who resign and are rehired, or whose genuine fixed term employment agreement comes to an end and another genuine fixed term agreement begins within one month (unless the employee and employer agree to this as part of the employment agreement).

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