Annual Leave 

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

Legally, you can take four weeks paid annual leave after you have worked for your employer continuously for one year. For example if you work five hours a week, at the end of the year you can take four weeks' worth of annual leave – that’s 20 hours.

Your annual leave carries over to the next year if you don’t use it all up. You are also entitled to take two of your annual leave weeks in one continuous period if you want to.

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

You can also consider the option of cashing in up to a week of your annual leave.

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

After one year in the same job 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. This tool from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment can help you work out the minimum legal entitlements that you have. Remember to check your employment agreement because some employers may give you more than the minimum requirement.

Can my employer tell me when to take my leave?

It is up to you and your employer to agree on the timing of your annual leave. Your employer can’t say no if you want to take leave at a certain time unless there is a good reason why this is not possible. If you can’t agree then your employer can tell you when to take leave but has to give you at least two weeks' notice.

See “How do I know what annual leave I am entitled to?” for more about leave entitlement.

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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 14 days' 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 more information about regular annual closedowns and your rights, refer to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Employment NZ website.

What holidays do I get as a casual employee?

Some employers may offer ‘pay as you go’ provisions for annual leave. ‘Pay as you go’ annual leave should only be available if you are a casual employee and the unpredictable hours you work make it impractical to give you paid holidays or you are on a fixed term employment agreement for less than 12 months. For example, if you worked at an events centre but only when conferences are held, you might go for months without hearing from your employer because there were no conferences. 

In this case it makes more sense to pay your 8% holidays' entitlement with your wage instead of letting you take a paid holiday. The payment for 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. If this applies to you then more information is available from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Employment NZ website.

When would I get my holiday pay if I leave?

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 take the matter to the Employment Relations Authority.

Can I ask my employer for money instead of annual leave?

You can ask your employer to pay you up to one week of your four weeks minimum holiday in cash. If you do this you will no longer be able to take the time you cashed up as a holiday.

For information about cashing up annual leave, see the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Employment NZ website.

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My employer wants me to cash up three days of my annual leave. Can they do that?

Cashing up to one week of annual leave can only be at your request. Your employer cannot force - or even so much as ask - you to do this. They can’t bring it up as part of your conditions of employment or pay negotiations.

If you tell your employer that you don't want to 'cash up', but your employer goes ahead and does so anyway, they are in breach of the law and may even face penalties.

Tell your employer what you want, and if necessary, what you are entitled to by law. If they disregard your wishes and cash up your leave, you can call the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Workplace Contact Centre on 0800 20 90 20 to get help. More information about  this is on our Resolving employment disputes page.

My workplace has a policy that says they don’t consider any requests to cash in annual leave – is that legal?

Workplaces are allowed to have a policy that says whether or not they will consider any requests to cash up annual leave.

If your employer does have a policy that says they will consider requests to cash up annual leave, the policy can’t have in it the amount of annual holidays you can cash up or the number of requests you can make.
All it can say is whether or not they will consider requests for cashing up leave. If there’s no policy, that means they will consider requests.

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I want to cash up two days of my annual leave to cover an unexpected bill - can my employer say no?

Your employer is allowed to say "no" to your application to cash in annual leave. They have to tell you this in writing, but they don’t have to tell you their reason for saying no. Unless they have a policy that says they won’t consider any requests to cash up annual leave (see the question above for information about this) they have to consider your application fairly.

However, even if they turned down your application this time it doesn’t mean they will say no again next time.

My employer accidentally cashed in more of my annual leave than I asked for. Have I lost that part of my annual leave?

If your employer does cash in the wrong amount of your annual leave, or cashes in some of your annual leave without you asking them to, you don’t lose the annual leave. As well as still being able to take the annual leave, you can also keep the money. Your employer may also face a penalty. More about this is on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment'sEmployment website.

My employer said yes to my request to cash in two days of my annual leave, but I don’t think the amount they have given me is right. Who can I ask?

If you aren’t sure you are getting paid the right amount, you or your employer can contact the the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Workplace Contact Centre on 0800 20 90 20 and ask for help to work out how much you should be getting.