Annual leave entitlements

When it comes to annual staff leave and public holidays, employers should be aware of their responsibilities.

Here’s a summary of minimum leave and holiday entitlements for employees.

Annual leave

  • All employees, regardless of their classification (i.e. part time, full time, fixed term, and ‘casual’) are entitled to at least four weeks’ of paid annual leave

  • Annual leave is accrued after 12 months of continuous employment with an employer or after six months for an average of 10 hours per week, and at least one hour in every week, or 40 hours in every month

  • Some employers may agree with their employees that they can take annual leave as they accrue it or in advance

  • In addition to annual leave, employees are entitled to 11 public holidays per year

Calculating leave

Calculating leave is a complex area. More businesses/organisations are being caught out for failing to comply with the Holidays Act 2003 as a result of incorrect leave and pay.

The Holidays Act 2003 outlines specific minimum entitlements to holidays and leave (e.g. annual leave, public holidays, sick leave) as well as the payments for them.

We highly recommend talking to your payroll provider to ensure leave is calculated correctly for all employees.

Click here to view the Government’s advice around calculating payments for holidays and leave for your employees.

Public holidays and close-down periods

Did you know, if you're an employer that requires workplace shutdown periods during the year, such as Christmas, you cannot force employees to take unpaid leave? Here's the Government advice you need to know. 

Click here to view public holidays for 2020/21.

Employment agreement - leave

When entering into an employment agreement, employers must inform the employee of the following:

  • Annual leave entitlements under the Holidays Act 2003
  • Annual close down periods, if there are any (at least 14 days before)
  • Sick leave (at least 5 paid days off a year)
  • Bereavement leave (at least 3 days paid leave)
  • Domestic violence leave
  • Parental leave

Preparing for annual leave

When it comes to annual leave, employers should anticipate their busiest periods and take preventative steps to minimise disruption.

Knowing when and how long your people are on leave is the first step to arranging suitable cover and preventing downtime in the business or organisation. Annual leave requests should be submitted and recorded to ensure correct leave and pay. It also prevents misunderstandings down the line.

Payroll systems are becoming more popular with businesses in order to simplify record-keeping and straightforward maintenance.

What next?

Require advice for best practice? Contact our HR consultants on (03) 366 4034 or email

This article is not intended as legal advice but is intended to alert employers to relevant topics of interest and how to be prepared.

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