Skip to content

Leave Entitlements

At work, understanding your rights regarding leave entitlements is crucial.

Whether you’re a full-time employee, part-time worker, or on a fixed-term contract, knowing what you’re entitled to empowers your professional life.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essentials of your leave entitlements. From annual holidays to public holidays and sick leave, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s make sure you’re well-informed about your rights (and benefits) when it comes to taking time off work.

Annual leave

  • All employees, regardless of the nature of their employment (causal, fixed-term, permanent, part time and full time) are entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks paid annual holiday after 12 continuous months of employment.
  • Some employees (such as casual workers or those of fixed-term agreements) may not be able to take a conventional annual holiday.
    These workers can agree to have their holiday pay ‘paid out’ along with their normal remuneration.
  • Holidays are for the purpose of rest and recreation (though you may legitimately use annual leave for sick, bereavement or family violence leave).
  • You are not obliged to work or be available to work during your holiday.
    When holidays are taken is to be agreed between the employer and employee. Your employer cannot unreasonably withhold consent for a request for a holiday, and your employer must allow you to take at least 2 weeks of your annual holiday entitlement in a continuous block, should you wish to do so.
    Annual leave days can also accrue over time.
  • There are some situations where an employer may direct you to take annual leave days.
    For example if the employer has an annual closedown period (defined at s 32 of the Holidays Act 2003), or if you cannot reach an agreement over when to take annual leave days.
  • An employer cannot unreasonably direct you to take leave, and cannot require you to take leave to avoid an obligation to provide you with work. Unless the instruction to take leave relates to an annual closedown, employers must first attempt to reach agreement before directing employers to take annual leave.

Public holidays

Employees are also entitled to 12 public holidays, provided that these holidays fall on days that an employee would otherwise be required to work.

When taking public holidays, employees must receive their ordinary pay (as if they were working on that day).

2024 holidays

New Year’s DayMonday 1 January
Day after New Year’s DayTuesday 2 January 
Waitangi DayTuesday 6 February
Good FridayFriday 29 March
Easter MondayMonday 1 April
Anzac DayThursday 25 April
King’s BirthdayMonday 3 June
MatarikiFriday 28 June
Labour DayMonday 28 October
Christmas DayWednesday 25 December
Boxing DayThursday 26 December
AucklandMonday 29 January
Canterbury (South)Monday 23 September
CanterburyFriday 15 November
Chatham IslandsMonday 2 December
Hawke’s BayFriday 25 October
MarlboroughMonday 4 November
NelsonMonday 29 January
OtagoMonday 25 March
SouthlandTuesday 2 April
TaranakiMonday 11 March
WellingtonMonday 22 January
WestlandMonday 2 December
  • An employee may agree to work over a public holiday (agreement may be expressed as a clause in the employee’s employment agreement).
    In such situations the employee must be paid at least time and a half for the period worked on that day.
  • Employees who are required to work, or who are on call to work, during a public holiday are also entitled to a paid alternative holiday, that can be exchanged for payment in lieu of the holiday on the employee’s request.
  • Once your employment ends (for whatever reason), you are entitled to full payment of any accrued annual leave that is owed. This is a minimum entitlement that cannot be contracted out of.

Sick leave

Taking care of your health and well-being is paramount, and understanding your rights regarding sick leave is essential. Whether you’re facing your own illness, supporting a sick partner or spouse, or caring for a dependent in need, knowing your entitlements enables you to focus on your health without unnecessary stress.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about sick leave entitlements in the workplace. From when and how to notify your employer to understanding proof requirements and privacy protections, it’s essential you’re supported in managing your health needs while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

You may take sick leave if: (a) You are sick or injured; (b) Your partner or spouse is sick or injured; or (c) A person who depends on you for care (for example a child or older relative) is sick or injured.

  • Your entitlement starts after you’ve been working continuously for six months. After that, you get it for every year you continue working without a break.
  • You can carry over a maximum of 10 days from one 12-month period to another and can accrue a maximum of 20 paid sick days.
  • You must notify your employer as soon as possible on the day you intend to take sick leave. If that is not practicable, you must do so as soon as possible in the time after that day.
  • Employers can ask for proof of sickness or injury where the period of sickness is for 3 or more consecutive calendar days.
  • Proof can include a certificate or note from a medical professional and employers cannot dictate who is capable providing that proof.
  • Employers cannot demand full access to medical information, you have a right to privacy over your health.
    If you are required to provide proof of sickness or injury, you can talk to your health professional about what information you are comfortable providing.
    Employers can only reasonably request information that is relevant to showing the need for sick leave.
  • Any medical certificate provided by a health professional doesn’t have to show information beyond what a reasonable employer would be satisfied by to know your sickness or injury is genuine. However, a note from a health profession telling the employer that you are on leave for medical reasons is not sufficient.
  • Any medical certificate must show an employer that a health professional has assessed you and is satisfied that you need to be off work for medical reasons.
  • Sickness encompasses a broad range of conditions and circumstances, including mental health related issues such as stress, fatigue, and trauma.
  • If you have an underlying health condition and require regular check-ups, these can be covered by sick leave.
  • Sick leave doesn’t have to be paid. If you run out of paid entitlement but still need time off due to a medical reason, then you may take unpaid sick leave.

Bereavement leave

You are entitled to bereavement leave upon the death of a:

  • spouse or partner
  • parent
  • child
  • brother or sister
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • spouse or partner’s parent
  • If you have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, or if you are the (spouse or partner) of someone who has suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, or if you are the biological parent of the child, or the (child’s) primary caregiver, or the partner of spouse of one who would have been the primary caregiver.

You may also claim bereavement leave for any other person if your employer accepts that you have suffered a bereavement. In deciding whether to accept a bereavement in these situations an employer must consider:

  • The closeness of your relationship to the deceased person.
  • Any significant responsibility you may have for any of the arrangements for the ceremonies related to death.
  • Any cultural responsibilities in relation to the death.

You receive 3 days leave for any of the specified categories of bereavement, where the deceased does not fit into a specified category, you may claim 1 day.

If you suffer multiple bereavements, you may take the amount of bereavement leave allowed in respect of each bereavement.

The specified categories listed in the Holidays Act 2003 include their whāngai equivalents (for example, a bereavement relating to the death of a whāngai brother will be treated the same as a bereavement relating to a non-whāngai brother).

Family violence leave

If you are affected by domestic violence, you have the right to:

  • Request a short term variation to your employment agreement (2 months or less) in order to deal with the effects of domestic violence, and
  • Take up to 10 days paid leave, which you qualify for after 6 month’s continuous employment with your employer.

It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against you due to your experience with domestic violence.

If your employer treats you adversely for being affected by domestic violence, or because they assume or suspect that you are affected by such violence, you may raise personal grievance.

Parental leave

Paid parental leave is funded by the government and available to any employee (including those who are self-employed) who meets the threshold test.

  • To meet the ‘threshold test’ you must have worked at least an average of 10 hours a week for any of the 26 weeks in the 52-week period that immediately precedes the expected due date (the test applies to regular employees as well as self-employed).
  • The period of paid leave is for a maximum period of 26 weeks that must be taken in one continuous period.

This leave is designed for the mother or adoptive parent of a newborn. However, all or part of the entitlement can be transferred to a partner or spouse if they are eligible under the Act. Even if a transfer occurs however, the maximum entitlement (26 weeks paid) remains the same.

  • Parental leave is only payable for time taken off work. Applications for paid parental leave that are made after you have returned to work will be declined.

However, ‘keeping in touch’ days can be used to ensure that you remain connected with your job. This amounts of a maximum of 64 hours of paid time that can be used without diminishing your entitlement to paid parental leave.