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find out about:
holidays on-line tool
annual holidays
public holidays
NZ public holiday dates
sick & bereavement leave
transition from 1981 Act to 2003 Act
Implementation evaluation of Holidays Act 2003
before 1 Apr 2004:
holidays act 1981

holidays & leave


This section brings together basic information about the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers in the workplace according to the Holidays Act 2003 [external link] and Holidays Amendment Act 2004

It includes information on the change to four weeks annual holidays. Our Holidays Online Tool makes it easy to work out what pay and leave an employee is entitled to on public holidays. You can also use it to work out sick and bereavement leave entitlements. Make sure you have payroll information or a payslip handy when you use the tool.

If you need assistance with your holiday and leave entitlements that arose before 1 April 2004, please go to the Holidays Act 1981 section or ring the Department of Labour freephone on 0800 20 90 20 during normal business hours.

On 14 November 2007 the Supreme Court released its decision in The New Zealand Airline Pilots' Association Industrial Union of Workers Incorporated v Air New Zealand Ltd. The case relates to agreements under the Holidays Act 2003 that a public holiday will be observed by an employee on another day.

We will be assessing the implications of this decision for all Departmental information, including website and hardcopy material, the on-line tool and the employment agreement builder. We will make any required changes as soon as possible. In the interim, please note that current information may not reflect the Supreme Court's decision.

A summary of Holidays Act 2003 general entitlements is available in PDF format in the following languages:
· Maori (PDF 205Kb)
· Samoan (PDF 214Kb)
· Tongan (PDF 205Kb)
· Chinese (PDF 499Kb)
· Korean (PDF 216Kb)
· Thai (PDF 205Kb)

The minimum rights set out in this section apply by law to all employees - full-time, part-time or casual. These rights apply even if they have not been included in employment agreements. You cannot agree to do away with any of these minimum rights, but you can agree to better ones.

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The Holidays Act 2003 provides minimum legal entitlements to:

The Holidays Act 2003 creates:

  • improved entitlements and more consistent arrangements for public holidays
  • separate entitlements for sick leave and bereavement leave
  • more certainty in holiday and leave calculations.
  • improved minimum entitlements for annual holidays (sometimes known as “annual leave”).

The Act affects every workplace differently. All employers should have already reviewed their practices to ensure they meet the requirements of the 2003 Act. This includes:

  • ensuring that they and their employees understand the public holiday provisions (including those in the October 2004 amendments)
  • ideally checking all employment agreements, and working through any required changes with employees or their unions
  • ensuring that records, holiday policies and procedures reflect at least the minimum provisions of the Holidays Act 2003
  • Implementing four weeks annual leave from 1 April 2007

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Further information & guidance

We welcome the opportunity to help you further. If you can’t find an answer to your question, or you want further clarification, more detailed information or guidance on any matter covered here, try a more detailed search or ask us a question.


The content of this document covers common problems. It will not answer every question and should not be used as a substitute for legislation or legal advice.

The Department of Labour takes no responsibility for the results of any actions taken on the basis of information on this website, nor for any errors or omissions.

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The Crown copyright protected material may be reproduced free of charge in any format or media without requiring specific permission. This is subject to the material being reproduced accurately and not being used in a derogatory manner or in a misleading context. Where the material is being published or issued to others, the source and copyright status should be acknowledged.

The permission to reproduce Crown copyright protected material does not extend to any material on this site that is identified as being the copyright of a third party. Authorisation to reproduce such material should be obtained from the copyright holders concerned.

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This page was last updated on: 16-Nov-2007 and is current.

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