Taking leave

Annual leave

How many days of annual leave do I get in a year?

Holidays Act 2003, s 16

You’re entitled to a minimum of four weeks of paid annual holidays (“annual leave”) at every 12-month anniversary of when you started your job. Everyone is entitled to annual leave, whether you’re working in a permanent role or a casual role. If you’re on a casual or fixed term employment agreement, you might get your annual leave “paid out” in the form of an extra 8% each time you’re paid (see: “Why do some jobs pay an extra 8% instead of annual leave?” below).

How long do I have to be working at a job to get annual leave?

You have to be working continuously at a job for 12 months for your annual leave entitlement to kick in. Your employment agreement can override this if it improves the terms – for example, if it allows you to access your annual leave after six months instead of 12.

If your employer agrees, you can take your annual holiday before you are technically entitled to it. This is called “taking leave in advance”. If you take leave in advance and then resign with a negative leave balance, you will have to pay your employer the difference.

If your job ends before you have continuously worked for 12 months, your employer must pay you annual holiday pay at 8% of your gross earnings, less any holiday pay paid in advance or paid on a pay-as-you-go basis.

When can I take my annual leave?

Holidays Act 2003, ss 18–19, 29–35

Your employer must allow you to take your four weeks’ annual leave within 12 months after you become entitled to it. If you want, you’re also allowed to take at least two weeks of your annual leave in one continuous period.

If you’ve asked to take annual leave at a particular time, your employer can’t unreasonably refuse this request.

Your employer can require you to take your annual leave at a particular time if:

  • you’re unable to reach agreement on the timing of annual leave, or
  • your workplace has an annual closedown period.

A closedown period is when an employer usually closes the workplace and requires employees to take all or some of their annual leave (for example, when a business closes over the Christmas/New Year period).

Your employer must give you at least 14 days’ notice if you’ll be required to take annual leave at a particular time.

What is my rate of pay while I’m taking annual leave?

Holidays Act 2003, ss 21–28

When you take annual leave, your pay should be the higher of the following two amounts:

  • your ordinary weekly pay at the time you take your annual leave, or
  • your average weekly earnings over the 12 months before you take your annual leave (this formula is used when your hours have changed during the year).

Holidays Act 2003, s 27

Your employer must pay you for your annual leave period before you go on leave, unless you’ve agreed it will be paid in the usual pay period.

If your employment has come to an end, any annual leave pay owing must be paid in your final pay.

Why do some jobs pay an extra 8% instead of annual leave?

Holidays Act 2003, s 28

There are two situations where you can be paid on an as-you-go basis, instead of taking annual leave. These are if:

  • you’re employed on a fixed-term employment agreement of less than 12 months, or
  • you work for the employer on a casual basis that’s so intermittent or irregular that it’s impractical for your employer to provide you with four weeks’ annual leave.

A pay-as-you go arrangement is designed for employees who would otherwise not really benefit from annual leave. This can only be used if you’ve agreed to it in your employment agreement. If this is the case, you’ll usually receive an additional 8% of your wages in each pay period. The extra 8% should be identifiable in your payslip.

Holidays Act 2003, s 16

You and your employer can agree that you’ll be paid out up to one week of your minimum annual leave entitlement each year.

Can I carry over my annual leave?

You can carry over annual leave from year to year. If you don’t use all your annual leave entitlement in a 12-month period, those days will automatically carry over and be added to your leave entitlement for the next year.

Your employer should try to manage your annual leave so you don’t accumulate too much from year to year. As part of their health and safety duties to manage stress in the workplace, they should ensure you take regular breaks from work.

Next Section | Public holidays

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Employment conditions and protections

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Access the free “Pregnancy Rights: Your legal options before and after pregnancy” booklet. This booklet contains practical answers to questions about pregnancy and the law, and includes information on sexual health and consent, options after a positive pregnancy test, healthcare, education, housing and more.
Online: communitylaw.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Pregnancy-Manual_PDF-for-Web_2021.pdf
Email for a hard copy: publications@wclc.org.nz
Phone: Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley – 04 499 2928

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

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

Website: www.employment.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 20 90 20
Hours and wages: www.employment.govt.nz/hours-and-wages
Leave and holidays: www.employment.govt.nz/leave-and-holidays
Workplace policies: www.employment.govt.nz/workplace-policies

Te Kauae Kaimah/New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Te Kauae Kaimah 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.

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

Labour inspectorate

Labour inspectors monitor and enforce minimum employment conditions. To refer a problem to a labour inspector, you contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

Website: www.mbie.govt.nz/position-descriptions/employment-services/labour-inspector-employment-services and www.employment.govt.nz/resolving-problems/steps-to-resolve/labour-inspectorate
Phone: 0800 20 90 20

Mahi Haumaru Aotearoa/Worksafe New Zealand

Worksafe is New Zealand’s primary workplace health and safety regulator.  The website contains a range of information on workplace health and safety.

Phone: 0800 030 040
Notify Worksafe online: www.worksafe.govt.nz/notify-worksafe

Parental leave payments

For more information on parental leave see Inland Revenue’s website.

Website: www.ird.govt.nz/topics/paid-parental-leave

Office of the Ombudsman

The Ombudsman handles complaints about Government agencies. In the employment context, you can make a protected disclosure (known as whistle-blowing).

Website: www.ombudsman.parliament.nz
Email: office@ombudsmen.parliament.nz
Phone: 0800 802 602
Whistle-blowing/protected disclosure information: www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/what-ombudsman-can-help/serious-wrongdoing-work-whistleblowing

To make a complaint online: www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/get-help-public

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