How much annual leave you get
Almost all employees are entitled to at least 4 weeks’ paid annual leave a year.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the workplace
You get your annual leave entitlement on the anniversary of the day you started working for your employer.
Your work anniversary can only change if:
- your work has an annual closedown, or
- you take a continuous period of leave without pay of more than 1 week.
Most employers let you use annual leave before your 1 year anniversary — this is called leave in advance.
Your employment agreement must set out what annual leave you’re entitled to.
Working regular hours
You’re entitled to at least 4 weeks’ paid annual leave a year if you work regular hours in a full-time or part-time job. This does not include public holidays or sick leave.
Your annual leave balance is:
- given to you in full each year on the anniversary of the day you started work, or
- built up (accrued) as you work so they add up to 4 weeks at the end of each year.
Working irregular hours or shifts
If you do not have set hours, your employer can decide with you what 4 weeks’ leave means and then record this in your employment agreement.
Workers with no set hours or on short fixed-term contracts
In some situations you may be paid extra instead of earning annual leave, but you have to agree to it in your employment agreement. For example, you may be paid extra if you’re:
- on a fixed-term contract of less than 12 months, or
- you work so intermittently it’s not practical for your employer to give you 4 weeks’ annual leave.
You’ll be paid at least 8% extra in each pay (before tax) and you will not build up any leave.
Workers on parental leave
When you’re on parental leave you continue to build up annual leave.
When you return to work after parental leave, you’re still allowed to take 4 weeks’ annual leave a year, but what you get paid is likely to be less because your average weekly earnings over that time were less.
Working for yourself or contracting
If you’re self-employed, you do not earn any paid leave.
Carrying over leave
Your leave does not expire if you do not take it within the year — but your employer might have limits on how much leave you can carry over.
If you build up too much leave:
- your employer can make you take some or all of it — following a fair process
- you can cash in some of your annual leave — though your employer has to agree to it.