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Holiday Entitlement

Employees get a minimum of four weeks (20 days) of paid annual leave a year. Annual leave is accrued every full year with the company rather than the calendar year. Employees can take up to two weeks consecutively, or all at once under exceptional circumstances.

Employees can only take their paid leave after completing a full year with the company unless agreed otherwise. Unused holidays are automatically carried over, but employers may request them to be used within the year accrued. Employees may exchange one week of leave for cash.

Public holidays

There are ten national public holidays, plus one regional anniversary. Employees are paid for public holidays that fall on a regular working day. Employees who work during a public holiday are entitled to 1.5 times their regular pay plus an alternative day off.

New Zealand Public Holiday Calendar 2021

Date Week Day Holiday
1/1/2021 Friday New Year's Day
1/2/2021 Saturday Day after New Year’s Day*
2/6/2021 Saturday Waitangi Day**
4/2/2021 Friday Good Friday
4/5/2021 Monday Easter Monday
4/25/2021 Sunday Anzac Day***
6/7/2021 Monday Queen’s Birthday
10/25/2021 Monday Labour Day
12/25/2021 Saturday Christmas Day****
12/26/2021 Sunday Boxing Day*****
* Substitute day on Monday January 4th
** Substitute day on Monday February 8th
*** Substitute day on Monday April 26th
**** Substitute day on Monday December 27th
***** Substitute day on Tuesday December 28th



Sick leave

Employees can use sick leave when they feel unwell or have been injured, or to look after a child, a spouse or someone else in their case who is injured or ill. Sick leave entitlement is ten days per year after six months of continuous employment and can be accumulated to 20 days. Employers may agree to extend the ill leave entitlement before the 6-month minimum.

In case an employee receives Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) or workers' compensation payments for more than five days, both employers and employees are allowed to increase the ACC payment from 80% to 100% by reducing one day from employees' sick leave balance.

Primary carer leave

In New Zealand, maternity leave is known as primary carer leave or parental leave, and is available for employees who are:

  • Pregnant, a new mother or their partner 
  • An adoptive parent
  • A Home for Life parent
  • Whāngai
  • A grandparent with full-time care
  • A permanent guardian

The length of leave depends on how long the employee has been employed by the same employer, as follows:

  • Six months before the due date: 26 weeks of paid primary carer leave, and a further four weeks of unpaid extended parental leave 
  • Twelve months before due date: 26 weeks of paid primary carer leave, and a further 26 weeks of unpaid extended parental leave

The employee is also entitled to 10 days of unpaid leave for pregnancy-related appointments. 

The government funds the payment, which is capped at NZ$585.80 weekly before tax. The employee can start their primary carer leave up to six weeks (or earlier with the employer's consent) before the child's arrival date.

Miscarriage leave

In 2021, New Zealand passed a law that gives both parents 3 days of paid leave for miscarriage or stillbirth at any point during the pregnancy (it does not apply to abortions). 

Partner's leave

In New Zealand, paternity leave is known as partner's leave, and available for the partner of a new mother, regardless of the gender. The leave is unpaid and lasts two weeks for people who have been for one year with the employer (one week for people employed for only six months) and can be taken any time within 21 days before or after the birth or adoption.

The primary carer may transfer some of their unpaid leave (4-26 weeks) to their partner.

Bereavement leave

Employees are entitled to three days of paid bereavement leave upon a close family member's death, including their parents, spouses, children, grandparents, mother or father-in-law. They are also entitled to one day leave upon a person's death not included in the list above, which however causes suffering. In case of more than one death, employees are entitled to an additional three days' bereavement leave in a month.

Work-related injury

Employers should cover every employee for accidents at work through the Accident Compensation Scheme (ACC). Employees are covered during the time of injury, and the follow-up recovery. The employer is responsible for the first week's pay at 80% of the employee's salary, after which the ACC takes over, at 80% rate. The minimum weekly compensation is NZ$566.40, and the maximum is NZ$2,015.59.

If the injury leave exceeds five days, the employee can ask for the payment to rise from 80% to 100% by using one sick leave day for every five days taken.

Volunteer defence force leave

Employees who volunteer in the armed forces are entitled to unpaid leave for training. Employers must hold the positions for up to 12 months for employees who volunteer or are called upon a situation of national interest.

Domestic violence leave

Domestic violence victims can claim up to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave in every 12 months. Employees can also request a short-term (two months or less) variation in their hours, days, or place of work to help cope with the effects of being subject to domestic violence. To be eligible, employees must have worked for their employer for at least six continuous months.

Jury service leave

Employees who have been called for jury service must attend it, and their job is protected while they attend jury service. Employees on jury service are entitled to unpaid time off.

Stress leave

Employers can offer sick leave to employees if they have work-related stress. This can help employee's health and productivity. The stress leave is, however, not a legal entitlement and it's up to the employer to decide if they provide it or not. The length of the leave and whether it is paid is at the discretion of the employer.

This page was last updated on 3rd August, 2021. If you have questions about this page, send us an email.