Annual Leave 

How do I know what annual leave I am entitled to?

Once you have worked for your employer continuously for one year you will be entitled to four of your working weeks as paid annual leave. For example if you always work five hours a week, at the end of the year you are entitled to take four weeks' worth of annual leave – that’s 20 hours.

You are also entitled to take two of your annual leave weeks' in one continuous period if you want to (provided you have at least two weeks' leave entitlement).

If your work hours are irregular (e.g. you work 15 hours some weeks, 25 hours on other weeks) you are still entitled to four weeks’ worth of annual leave. Your holiday pay would have to be worked out as average weekly earnings over the year (see I recently left my job. How do I know they have calculated the right amount of holiday pay in my final pay?).

You get a new entitlement of four weeks’ worth of annual leave on each anniversary of starting work with your employer. Any annual leave from the previous year that you did not take carries over into the next year.

If you are employed on a fixed term agreement which is to last less than 12 months, then instead of giving you paid leave, your employer may pay you holiday pay. More about this is on the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website.

When you take annual leave you are entitled to receive your pay for that period in advance (i.e. before you go on leave) - unless you and your employer have agreed that you will be paid according to the normal pay cycle.

These are just the minimum legal requirements. Your employment agreement may give you more annual leave than this so check with your employer. For example, some employers give their staff, as additional leave, the days between Christmas and New Year.

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I’ve worked at my job for one year and haven’t used any holidays or received holiday pay. What am I entitled to?

After one year in a job working full-time you are entitled to four weeks’ annual leave. You should be given the opportunity to use at least two weeks of this leave as one continuous period.

Assuming you will remain in your job, you can plan to:

  • take all of your leave over the coming year,
  • take some of your leave and allow the unused leave to carry over to the following year, or
  • talk to your employer about cashing in up to one week of your leave. 

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Can my employer tell me when to take my leave?

Your employer can force you to take leave at a particular time as long as they give you at least two weeks' notice.

However, it is common for employer and employee to come to an agreement about the timing of annual leave. If you put in a request for leave, your employer has to have a good reason to refuse it.

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Can my employer force me to take annual leave between Christmas and New Year, or during that period?

Your employer can tell you when to take leave as long you are given two weeks’ notice.

If your office shuts down over Christmas and New Year then your employer can make you take your leave at that time, provided there is only one shut-down period per year.

For information about how your holiday pay is affected when your workplace has regular annual closedowns, refer to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment  website. 

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What holidays do I get as a casual employee?

You are a casual employee if your hours of work are unpredictable, for example you only work when called in to cover a sick employee. As a casual employer you are entitled to paid annual leave.

If you work unpredictable hours it would be impractical for your employer to give you time off with paid annual leave. For this reason your employer may offer ‘pay as you go’ provisions for annual leave. This means that instead of being able to take paid days off, you receive an additional 8% of your gross earnings each pay. This is your holiday pay.

This can only be done by agreement between you and your employer, and it must be included in your employment agreement. The payment of your 8% holidays' entitlement must be listed separately from your wage on your time sheets or payslips if you are on a ‘pay as you go’ scheme.

Pay as you go holiday pay might also apply if you are on a fixed-term employment agreement for less than 12 months.

More information is available from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Employment website.

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How is holiday pay calculated?

If you are a casual worker or on a short term, fixed term employment agreement you’ll find out how your holiday pay is worked out by reading the answer to the previous question.

For other employment types, your holiday pay has to be calculated for the pay period that corresponds with when you take your leave. 

The pay rate is worked out as the greater of:

  • Your “average weekly earnings” i.e. your total gross earnings for the previous 12 months divided by 52;
  • Your “ordinary weekly pay” i.e. what you are normally paid per week.

More detailed information about how “average weekly earnings” and “ordinary weekly pay” are calculated is on the Employment website.

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If I leave my job, when do I get my holiday pay?

Any holiday pay owing should be included in your last pay. If there is any dispute over how much you have been paid, then you need to make sure you talk this over with your employer and try to sort it out.

If you can’t get the amount you believe you are owed then you can you can call the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Workplace Contact Centre on 0800 20 90 20 for help and advice.

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I recently left my job. How do I know they have calculated the right amount of holiday pay in my final pay?

The holiday pay you receive in your final pay will largely depend on what remained of your leave entitlement when you left your job.

If you worked at your job for less than 12 months before leaving, and didn’t take any paid leave, your holiday pay would be calculated at 8% of your gross earnings (i.e. before PAYE is deducted) over the time you worked there.

If you left after working for more than 12 months at the job, then your holiday pay is worked out in two parts:

  • payment for any annual leave entitlement you have not taken – worked out as above 
  • payment for the hours you worked since the last time you received your annual leave entitlement – worked out as 8% of your gross earnings over this period.

More about calculating your holiday pay and other parts of your final pay is on the Employment website.