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New Zealand Leave Laws & Holidays

Paid Time Off, Annual Leave, Sick Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Bereavement Leave, Jury Duty Leave, Military Leave, and Voting Leave

Table Of Contents

Last updated on February 8, 2024.

Paid Time Off (PTO) in New Zealand

Vacation Quota (Annual Leave)

4 weeks

Employees in New Zealand are entitled to 4 weeks of paid annual leave each year. All employees, including full-time and part-time, are entitled to this statutory 4 weeks of vacation per year.

To be eligible for this full vacation entitlement, an employee must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months. Workers who have been employed for less than a full year are not yet eligible for vacation entitlement, though an employer may permit them to use a portion of their approaching vacation days upfront.

Workers on fixed-term contracts of less than 12 months are entitled to 8% holiday pay in lieu of 20 vacation days.

In certain circumstances and under specific conditions, some employees might receive their vacation pay based on a pay-as-you-go system. Pay-as-you-go represents a system of paying for expenses as they arise, rather than in advance or retrospectively. For example, pensions are also paid this way.

Carry Over

Any vacation days not taken by the end of the current year can be carried over to the following year.

Cashing Out Vacation Entitlement

Workers have the option to cash out up to one week of their entire vacation days. This is a rare practice, as leave laws in most countries do not allow this option.

Payment of Unused Vacation on Termination

If an employee’s employment comes to an end due to the termination of a contract, any unused vacation time must be paid out.

If an employee is fired or leaves their job before they qualify for vacation (and if the employer hasn’t been paying for the vacation days based on a pay-as-you-earn system), the employer must pay the employee for any unused vacation time. This payment is calculated as 8% of the employee’s total earnings (before taxes) from the start of their employment until it ends.

Sick Leave in New Zealand

A minimum of 10 paid sick days.

Employees are entitled to at least 10 days of paid sick leave per year.

An employee may use their sick leave not only for their own health but also to take care of a close family member or dependent. Therefore, paid sick leave can be taken when any of the following individuals related to an employee are sick or injured:

  • employee’s spouse or partner,
  • employee’s dependent child,
  • any other individual dependent on an employee.

The number of minimum paid sick leave days increased from 5 to 10 per year in 2021.


An employee becomes eligible for this benefit after 6 months of employment. However, an employee who has less than 6 months of service may take sick leave upfront.

This policy applies to full-time employees and part-time employees, but also to fixed-term employees if their fixed term exceeds a period of six months.

Accrual and Carryover

After receiving ten days of paid sick leave following six months of continuous employment, an employee receives at least another ten days each 12 months after that.

Unused paid sick leave can be transferred to the next year. Therefore, employees may roll over 10 days of unused paid sick leave into the following year. Employees are allowed to accumulate up to 20 days of paid sick leave. This means that accrual is legally capped at 20 days, but an employer may let their employees accrue even beyond this point.

An employer is allowed to offer more than the statutory minimum of 10 days of paid sick leave annually.

Payout of Sick Leave

The employer pays for sick leave.

During sick leave, employees receive their usual pay for the sick days as if they were working as normal. Additionally, employers must compensate for the costs of any work-related injuries their employees suffer.

Maternity and Paternity Leave

52 weeks

The parental leave policy in New Zealand is somewhat complicated.

Parents who are having a new child have the right to a total of 52 weeks of parental leave, which can be shared among them.

This period is divided into two parts:

  • The first 26 weeks are provided as paid primary carer leave (aka maternity leave).
  • An additional 26 weeks of unpaid extended leave.

Maternity Leave in New Zealand

26 weeks of paid leave

Basic maternity leave in New Zealand is known as primary carer leave. If the employee has a spouse or partner they need to choose who will be the primary carer.

The primary carer leave in New Zealand is up to 26 weeks and must be taken in one single continuous period. The primary carer leave can begin as early as six weeks prior to the baby’s anticipated arrival date. Furthermore, if a female employee begins her primary carer leave earlier than scheduled, she is obliged to take a minimum of 20 weeks of leave following the birth of the child.


Primary carer leave is allowed if an employee is:

  • a birth mother;
  • a spouse or partner with the benefits of the primary carer transferred to them;
  • a primary caretaker for a child younger than 6 years (including adoption).

Also, an employee must have served an average of 10 hours weekly at the same employer for at least 26 weeks before the start of the leave.

Payout of Primary Carer Leave

The parental leave payment is made weekly for a single continuous stretch of up to 26 weeks.

Employees receiving parental leave payments will get whichever is higher:

  • Their regular weekly pay, or
  • Their average weekly earnings,

up to a maximum of $712.17 per week.

An employer can supplement this amount up to the employee’s full salary.

Unpaid Extended Leave

26 weeks of unpaid leave

Extended leave, which comes after primary carer leave, can span up to 52 weeks, including the 26 weeks of primary carer leave. This means an employee could take an additional 26 weeks of extended unpaid parental leave, totaling up to 52 weeks of parental leave when combined with primary carer leave. Either parent may take this leave, and they may decide how to divide the leave’s total duration.

To be eligible, a worker must have been employed for a minimum of 10 hours each week for 52 weeks (1 full year) leading up to their leave.

Paternity Leave in New Zealand

1 or 2 weeks of unpaid leave

A spouse or partner who is eligible may take one or two weeks of unpaid partner’s leave (paternity leave). This leave is to be taken in the period from three weeks (21 days) before to three weeks after the birth.

The duration of leave is based on the length of employment:

  • 1 week of leave is available to those who have been employed for 6 months or more, working an average of at least 10 hours per week.
  • 2 weeks of leave are granted to those who have worked for 12 months or more, with an average of at least 10 hours of work per week.

Bereavement Leave in New Zealand

1 day or 3 days

Employees are entitled to paid bereavement leave in the unfortunate event of a death in the family.

Employees are entitled to a minimum of 3 days of bereavement leave in the event of:

  • A death of a close family member: partner or spouse, parent, a spouse or partner’s parent, grandparent, sibling, child, or grandchild.
  • An employee’s or his partner’s miscarriage or stillbirth.

Employees are also entitled to at least 1 day of bereavement leave for each loss that affects them. Eligibility depends on their relationship with the deceased, their involvement in funeral arrangements, and any cultural duties related to the death.


Employees get paid for bereavement leave their usual daily rate. This payment is included in their regular paycheck.

Jury Duty Leave in New Zealand

Employers are obligated to permit employees to fulfill their jury duties. Therefore, employees are entitled to leave when they are required to participate in compulsory jury duty. During this leave, their job position is protected.


Employees on jury service get a small fee from the Ministry of Justice. Employers aren’t required to pay their employees during this time, but most of them choose to add extra money to this fee, so employees receive their usual salary.

Military Leave in New Zealand

Employees have the right to unpaid military leave for participating in voluntary training or service, whether full-time or part-time, as well as for active duty during national interest situations, wars, or emergencies, whether they volunteer or are called up.


While on leave, employers do not have to pay employees but are obligated to preserve their job positions and benefits.

Voting Leave in New Zealand

An employer is required to provide time off for employees who need to vote in general elections on election day if they’re registered to vote in the area and haven’t had the chance to vote before work.

Public Holidays in New Zealand for 2024

Date Holiday
January 1 & 2 New Year
January 22 Wellington Anniversary Day
January 29 Auckland Anniversary Day
January 29 Nelson Anniversary Day
February 6 Waitangi Day
March 11 Taranaki Anniversary Day
March 25 Otago Anniversary Day
March 29 Good Friday
April 1 Easter Monday
April 2 Southland Anniversary Day
April 25 Anzac Day
June 3 King’s Birthday
June 28 Matariki
September 23 South Canterbury Anniversary Day
October 25 Hawkes’ Bay Anniversary Day
October 28 Labor Day
November 4 Marlborough Anniversary Day
November 15 Canterbury Anniversary Day
December 2 Chatham Islands Anniversary Day
December 2 Westland Anniversary Day
December 25 Christmas
December 26 Boxing Day

An employee who must work on an official national holiday receives extra pay. However, employees have the option to use their worked holiday as a substitute for another day (time off in lieu).


  1. Employment New Zealand (an official government website), https://employment.elearning.ac.nz

  2. Local Laws & Regulations, https://www.atlashxm.com/en/countries/new-zealand

  3. Payroll and Benefits Guide New Zealand, https://www.papayaglobal.com/countrypedia/country/new-zealand/

  4. Types of parental leave, https://www.employment.govt.nz/leave-and-holidays/parental-leave/types-of-parental-leave/

Check out our Leave Laws page to learn more about laws in various countries.

All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about this region's leave laws. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may not be current. Please contact your local legal counsel to learn more about the leave laws in your country.

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