Holidays Act 2003

The Holidays Act 2003 replaces the holidays Act  1981. It comes into force on 1 April 2004. Existing leave entitlements carry over. The act affects all lay employees except self-employed contractors.

Parties are required to deal in good faith. Employers must notify employees

  • of their entitlements under the Act
  • that further information can be obtained from the Department of Labour

Good leave records are a necessity and both the employer and the employee need to be aware of the details of leave entitlements and leave taken.

The Act specifies the minimum which must be provided. An employer can offer more than the miniumum.

There are penalties for non-compliance.

Annual Holidays

  • Entitlemment remains three weeks (note from 1 April 2007 it will become 4 weeks).
  • Annual Leave can be accrued from one year to the next.
  • Employers can require leave to be taken but must give employees 14 days written notice.
  • There is a new obligation not to unreasonably with-hold consent for leave to be taken.

Annual Leave and sickness

  • When an employee falls sick on annual leave, the leave may be taken as sick leave.
  • Where an employee falls sick prior to the commencement of leave, the employer must allow the employee to take that time as sick leave.

Annual Leave and Bereavement

  • When an employee suffers a bereavement while on annual leave, the employer must allow bereavement leave.

Sick Leave


5 days leave after 6 months' service
Can carry over 15 days
Can accumulate 20 days

Bereavement Leave


After 6 months service, 3 days for the death of an employee's

  • spouse
  • parent or parent-in-law
  • child
  • sibling
  • grandparent
  • grandchild.

1 day on any other occasion where the employer accepts that the employee has suffered a bereavement. The employer should take into account.

  • closeness of the association
  • responsibility for ceremonies
  • cultural responsibilities

Public Holidays

  • As for 1981 Act.
  • They are paid holidays if they fall on days which for the employee would otherwise be working days.
  • If not clear, parties must consider
    - Employement agreement
    - Employee's work patterns
    - Other relevant factors.
  • The employee must be paid time and a half

    be given an alternative day off on pay at some other time.