NZ Christmas Holidays & Leave: Common employment questions

Published 14 November 2023 | 2 min read

Kiwi Christmas: Answering your burning employment questions

Kia ora! As the sun starts to shine a little brighter, the pōhutukawas bloom and the BBQs get dusted off for the summer, we know that the holiday season is upon us. But along with the joy and jandals, comes a sleigh-load of employment questions that have landed on our doorstep. Let's dive into the sizzling summer employment inquiries that have been grilling us lately.

1. What should you do if you receive a resignation? What are the rules around the notice period?

A resignation lands on your desk like an unexpected cricket ball. What's the play here?

The first point of consideration is checking the employment agreement that the employee holds to see whether it refers to business days. If the agreement references business days, the notice period may seamlessly extend over the closed-down period. However, in cases where this is not explicitly outlined, it is not uncommon for employers to engage in discussions with employees, requesting an extension of the notice period. For instance, if a resignation occurs near Christmas and the notice period coincides with the closed-down period, an employer may reasonably seek an extension for a smoother transition upon their return in January.

During the closed-down period, another scenario may unfold. Imagine an employee, basking on the beach, contemplating a change—a desire for a new job surfacing. In response to this internal shift, they might opt to submit their resignation.

In circumstances where an employee tenders their resignation during the closed-down period, a nuanced approach is required. The employer may contend that, given the widely known closure of the business, the employee's notice period has not been adequately observed. Each case demands individual scrutiny, and if such a scenario arises, it is advisable to seek professional advice.

2. Annual leave before the 12-month mark

Ah, annual leave – the sacred time off. But what if your team member hasn't hit the 12-month mark yet? Can they still cash in those leave days?

Most payroll systems accrue leave over time, allowing employees to accumulate leave days before reaching the twelve-month milestone.

In response to the query regarding whether employees can avail themselves of accrued leave before completing twelve months of service, the answer is yes. However, this is contingent upon employer discretion.

Considerations must be made regarding the risk involved, particularly if an employee intends to depart shortly after such leave is granted. The retrieval of accrued leave in such scenarios is contingent upon organisational policies and procedures.

3. Sick leave during annual leave

Let's face it, Kiwi summers aren't always a smooth sail. What if an employee's under the weather during their annual leave?

So, as with any sick leave, when an employee takes annual leave, employees are entitled to change their annual leave for sick leave if they are sick.

But unlike standard sick leave, the conversion of annual leave to sick leave during illness rests upon the employer's discretion. It is imperative to refer to the established policies and employment agreements within the organisation to determine the parameters of such discretion.

The general rule of thumb is that it is at the employer's discretion and you can determine whether you're willing to grant that as sick leave instead of annual leave. We would recommend at the moment it is very reasonable to grant that as sick leave instead of annual leave. It depends on that employee's sick leave balance and whether they have any left.

Wrapping it up

So, there you have it, a sizzling summary of the hot employment questions grilling our help desk.

As you gear up for a holiday season filled with sun, sand, and maybe a few snags on the barbie, remember, we're here for all your employment queries.

Feel free to give us a call at 03 366 4034 or email us at

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