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Holidays and annual leave

Bereavement leave when someone close to you has died

Overview of how bereavement leave works

In general, once you’ve been in your job for six months you have the right to take:

  • three days’ bereavement leave if a family member has died
  • one day’s bereavement leave if someone else has died and your employer agrees that it was the kind of close relationship that justifies you taking bereavement leave.

Your employer must pay you your relevant daily pay, or your average daily pay, for each day of bereavement leave.

There’s no maximum amount of bereavement leave you can take in any one year, unlike sick leave and annual leave.

How long do I need to have worked at the job before I can take bereavement leave?

Holidays Act 2003, ss 63, 69

In general you’re entitled to bereavement leave after your first six months of continuous employment.

Even if you haven’t yet completed six months’ continuous employment, you’ll still qualify for bereavement leave if you have, over a six-month period, worked for your employer for:

  • at least an average of 10 hours a week, and
  • at least one hour every week or at least 40 hours in every month.

Your employer can agree to allow you to take bereavement leave in advance, before you become entitled to it. If they do agree to this, they can’t later use that as a reason to refuse you bereavement leave on a different occasion when you’d otherwise have the right to it.

How much bereavement leave can I take if a family member has died?

Holidays Act 2003, ss 63, 69, 70

On any one occasion you can take three days’ bereavement leave on the death of your:

  • spouse or partner
  • parent
  • child
  • brother or sister
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • spouse’s or partner’s parent.
Bereavement leave after miscarriage or stillbirth

Holidays Act 2003, s 69

The Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill (No 2), makes it clear that you are entitled to three days bereavement leave if you experience the end of a pregnancy because of miscarriage or stillbirth.

These entitlements apply to mothers and their partners as well as parents planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy.

How much bereavement leave can I take if someone outside my family has died?

You can take one day’s bereavement leave if someone other than one of those family members (see above) has died and your employer accepts that this justifies you taking bereavement leave. The employer should take into account factors like:

  • how close you were to the person who has died
  • whether you have any significant responsibilities for arrangements for funeral or other ceremonies
  • any cultural responsibilities you have in relation to the death.

    Note: If you suffer more than one bereavement at the same time, you can take the allowed amount of bereavement leave for each bereavement.

What about tangihanga leave?

The Holidays Act does not cover tangi leave specifically. Tangihanga leave comes under ordinary bereavement leave. You can take three days’ leave on the death of any of the relatives listed above, or one day’s leave if someone outside your family has died. Some collective employment agreements provide specifically for more generous tangihanga leave.

Is there a maximum amount of bereavement leave each year?

No. The only limit is on how much bereavement leave you can take each time. In each case, this will be either three days or one day, depending on your relationship to the person who has died, as explained above.

Do I have to tell my employer I’m going to take bereavement leave?

Holidays Act 2003, s 64

You have to tell your employer as soon as possible if you intend to take bereavement leave – for example, before you were supposed to start work or, if that’s not realistic, as early as possible after that.

Next Section | Family violence leave

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Employment conditions and protections

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Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment


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The Employment website of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment publishes a range of publications on employment relations and minimum rights at work.

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Worksafe New Zealand’s website has a range of information and publications on workplace health and safety issues.

Parental leave payments


The Inland Revenue website has information on parental leave payments.

Whistle-blowing (“Protected disclosures” by employees)


Free phone: 0800 802 602
Email: info@ombudsman.parliament.nz

The Office of the Ombudsman provides information and guidance to employees about making a protected disclosure.

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Te Kauae Kaimahi


Phone: (04) 385 1334
Email: info@nzctu.org.nz

The NZCTU is the umbrella body for affiliated unions covering every job and industry in New Zealand. It can provide information about which union may cover the type of work you do.

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