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Leave entitlements.

In New Zealand, employees are entitled to minimum leave entitlements. Our team of expert employment lawyers can guide you through when and how these minimum entitlements arise, how they apply in practice, what employee’s need to know and provide pragmatic solutions to issues that may arise.

Employees within New Zealand become entitled to annual holidays, sick leave, bereavement leave, family violence leave and various other types of leave once they meet the relevant requirements for each type of leave.

For example, after an employee has worked continuously for their current employer for 12 months, that employee becomes entitled to four weeks of annual leave.

In 2019 a new leave entitlement was introduced: family violence leave. Employers are now required to provide family violence leave to employees who are persons affected by family violence. After an employee has worked six months continuously for their current employer (or who meets the other relevant criteria) and they are a person affected by family violence, that employee becomes entitled to a minimum of 10 days paid family violence leave.

Employees who are persons affected by family violence may also request a short-term (two months or less) variation of their working arrangements for the purpose of assisting them to deal with the effects of being a person affected by family violence.

Examples of how minimum leave entitlements apply:

Sick leave: Once an employee becomes entitled to sick leave, this entitlement:

  • May be used by the employee if their spouse or partner, or a person who depends on the employee for care, is sick or injured;
  • May be carried over, up to a maximum number of sick leave days, for each subsequent 12 month period of employment with the employee’s current employer;
  • Does not give rise to any unused sick leave being paid out at the end of the employee’s employment as an “entitlement”; and
  • Does not prohibit the employee’s employer from requiring proof of sickness or injury.


Bereavement leave: Once an employee becomes entitled to bereavement leave, this entitlement provides the employee with:

  • Three days of bereavement leave for immediate family members (specifically being the employee’s spouse or partner, parent, sibling, child, grandparent, grandchild, and their spouse or partner’s parent); and
  • One day of paid bereavement leave for non-immediate family members (with their employer’s approval).


Parental leave: An employee’s entitlement to parental leave will vary depending on the individual circumstances of each employee. The types of parental leave an employee may become entitled to include:

  • Primary carer leave;
  • Partners leave;
  • Extended leave; and
  • Special leave.


For further Employment Law advice, get in touch with Bronwen and the Employment Law team.
bronwen@davenportslaw.co.nz | 09 883 4420


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