With the arrival of autumn, it is a good time to sit back, take stock and look at those languishing New Year’s goals. 

For some this can mean a change in career and, if that’s you, you’re not alone. 

We have an increasingly fluid workforce with Government statistics showing that over half of New Zealanders have been in their current employment for less than 18 months. 

If a new year means a new job for you, it’s important to be familiar with employment law and your rights. 

Giving notice

When resigning, you must first give notice, as specified in your Employment Agreement. 

If you leave without your employer’s consent before your notice period has ended, your employer can seek damages or losses, such as the cost of hiring additional staff or the loss of work opportunities due to the lack of staff available. 

You may however leave earlier by mutual agreement. If this is the case, it’s really important that any agreement if documented in writing so both parties know where they stand. 

Final pay

You are entitled to request your final pay on the last day of work, rather than the following payday. 

This must include:

  • All hours worked since the last payday until the end of employment; 
  • Annual holidays, public and alternative holidays accrued; and 
  • Any additional lump sum or other payments owing which may be included in the Agreement or negotiated as part of leaving.

If any of these are not included, you should seek any entitlements in arrears from your employer. If a dispute arises, you can make a claim for a breach under the Agreement or the Employment Relations Act 2000 (legal advice is strongly advised). 


Under the Holidays Act 2003, New Zealanders are entitled to a minimum four weeks paid leave a year, with the opportunity to take at least two of the four weeks continuously. Unless otherwise agreed, leave entitlements are subject to working 12 months for the same employer. In addition, you are also entitled to request unpaid leave. 

If your income fluctuates, your leave pay must be the greater of your average and weekly earnings. 

If you have worked for 12 months for the same employer they may agree with you to either:

  • Take all leave accrued in that year; or 
  • Take a portion of leave accrued as soon as possible and carry over the remaining leave into the next year; or 
  • Be compensated financially for up to one week of leave.  

If you resign within the first 12 months, you are still entitled to be paid for annual holidays, calculated at 8% of your gross earnings during employment. 

In summary

Understanding your entitlements will protect you, and ensure you are informed and treated fairly.