New Zealand Leave Laws

Do you have employees working in New Zealand/Aotearoa? If so, take note of the following regulations and customs regarding annual leave, sick leave, maternity and paternity leave and more in New Zealand.

This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.

Public Holidays in New Zealand

The following public holidays are observed in New Zealand in 2024:

January 1New Year’s Day
January 2Day after New Year’s Day
February 6Waitangi Day
March 29Good Friday
April 1Easter Monday
April 25ANZAC Day
June 3King’s Birthday
June 28Matariki
October 28Labour Day
December 25Christmas Day
December 26Boxing Day

Public holidays in New Zealand are “mondayised”, which means if a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, and you don’t normally work this day, it carries over to the next working day.

Employees can only claim each holiday once. If a holiday falls on a Saturday, for example, and the employee works on that day, they can’t get another day off for the following Monday.

In addition to the public holidays above, which are observed nationwide, each region has their own “Anniversary Day” public holiday, observed only within that region.

RegionActual Date
AucklandJanuary 29
TaranakiMarch 11
Hawke’s BayOctober 25
WellingtonJanuary 22
MarlboroughNovember 4
NelsonJanuary 29
CanterburyNovember 15
Canterbury (South)September 23
WestlandDecember 2
OtagoMarch 25
SouthlandApril 2
Chatham IslandsDecember 2

Public Holiday Pay

Public holidays entitle an employee to a paid day off. 

If the employee works on a public holiday, they are paid time and a half (1.5x their regular rate of pay). If this is their normal working day, they will also receive a day off in lieu – an alternative paid day off they can take at a later date (essentially an additional day of annual leave).

Learn more about NZ public holidays at Employment New Zealand.

Annual Leave in New Zealand

Almost all NZ employees, part-time and full-time, are entitled to at least 4 weeks’ paid time off each year.

This entitlement begins on the 1 year anniversary of the day the employee started working with their employer.

Accruals & Rollovers

Employees have the right to carry over any unused leave into the next year. Leave cannot expire – however, an employer can make employees take leave in some circumstances.

Paying Out Leave

When on leave, employees are paid their normal weekly pay, or the average they’ve earned per week over the 12 months prior to their leave (whichever is higher).

At termination of employment, any unused paid time off will be paid out as cash. Employees can also request to have up to 1 week of annual leave paid out in cash each year.

Learn more about annual leave entitlements and laws in New Zealand at

Medical/Sick Leave in New Zealand

All employees in New Zealand are entitled to 10 days of paid sick leave, once they have at least 6 months of continuous employment with their employer.

Sick leave not only covers illness and injury for the employee, but also if the employee needs to look after their partner or dependant.

The employee should be paid their regular rate of pay when they’re on sick leave, assuming the day they are on leave is a day they regularly work.

Unused sick leave at the end of each 12 month period can be carried over to the next year, and added to that year’s entitlement. This can accumulate up to a maximum of 20 days, and can’t be cashed out.

Learn more at Employment New Zealand.

Maternity Leave in New Zealand

Employees in New Zealand can take primary carer leave, if they are giving birth to a child or if they are going to have primary responsibility for the care, development and upbringing of a child under 6 years old on a permanent basis.

One parent can take primary carer leave.

Primary carer leave can last up to 26 weeks, and must be taken all at once, and only one time per child.

Leave begins on the due date or date childbirth starts, or the day in which the employee becomes the primary carer of the child.

Pregnant women may begin their primary carer leave earlier than the due date, if the baby is born earlier, or they are recommended by a doctor or midwife to start leave earlier. In this case, the employee may still take at least 20 weeks of primary carer leave after the birth, even if this adds up (the period of leave before and after birth) to more than 26 weeks.

Pregnant females can also take up to 10 days’ unpaid special leave for pregnancy-related reasons, in addition to primary carer leave.

In some cases, new parents can take extended leave that extends their leave period up to 52 weeks.

Paternity Leave in New Zealand

The spouse or partner of a pregnant woman may be eligible for 1-2 weeks of unpaid partner’s leave.

In addition, primary carer leave can be taken by either parent (such as the father/spouse of the employee giving birth). However, the total entitlement can only be taken by one parent.

Additional Leave Types

Bereavement Leave in New Zealand

Employees in New Zealand are entitled to a minimum of 3 days’ bereavement leave in some situations:

An employee may also be entitled to 1 day of bereavement leave if the death is not covered by the conditions above, and the employer accepts that they have had a bereavement.

Domestic Violence Leave

Employees who have been the victim of domestic (or family) violence – which includes physical, sexual or psychological abuse – may be eligible for paid domestic violence leave.

Assuming the employee meets the employment criteria, they can apply to take up to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave each year, and ask for short-term flexible working arrangements for up to 2 months.

Employees can also apply for domestic violence leave to support a child who has been the victim of domestic violence.

Learn more at

Official Resources Annual Leave

Employment New Zealand: Leave and Holidays

This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.

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