Pay periods and paydays

When and how often an employee is paid (for example weekly, fortnightly, monthly) varies between workplaces and will often be in employment agreements or workplace policies.

Employee rights

The law does not say how often or what day an employee should be paid – this information should be in their . Employees must be paid in money (New Zealand banknotes and coins) and employers cannot tell employees how to spend their money.

Types of pay

Employees must be paid:

  • annual leave before the holiday starts, unless they agree to be paid in their normal payment pattern

Annual holiday pay

  • for public holidays in their pay for the pay period when the public holiday falls if it is a normal working day for them
  • time and a half for the time worked on a public holiday for the period when the public holiday falls

Public holiday pay

  • for sick, bereavement or family violence leave in the pay for the pay period when the leave was taken, at the rate they would usually be paid for that day

Pay for sick, bereavement and family violence leave

  • for any alternative holidays, in the pay period when the alternative holiday was taken.

Alternative holidays

Pay period

The pay period is the length of time an employee gets paid for each pay day. If they’re paid fortnightly, their pay period would be for 2 weeks.

If they're paid:

  • wages (by the hour), they will usually be paid after the pay period; for example, Mike is paid on a Monday, for the pay period from Monday last week until the Friday of last week
  • a salary, they may be paid before the end of the pay period; for example, Shanti is paid fortnightly, in the middle of her pay period. This means Shanti is paid 1 week in advance (before she does the work), and 1 week in arrears (after she has done the work).

Pay day

Employees are usually paid on a regular day each week, fortnight or month. For example, the pay day may be every Thursday or every second Wednesday. The law does not say how often an employee should be paid or what day they should be paid, but this is included in most employment agreements.

If an employee’s pay day is not included in the employment agreement that is offered by the employer, the employee should ask their employer how often and when they will be paid before they sign the employment agreement and ask for it to be included so that there is no confusion.

Employers need to consider their obligations and be reasonable when deciding how often their employees will be paid.

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