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Paying Employees for Public Holidays

Employees get a paid day off on public holidays if it’s an otherwise working day for them. An otherwise working day is a day that an employee would have been working had the day not been a public holiday.

Over the Easter and ANZAC holidays, some employment questions that regularly arise are:

  • Do employees have to work if their employer asks them to?
  • At what rates should employees be paid?
  • Are shops allowed to open on Easter Sunday?

The Easter and ANZAC public holidays this year fall on 2 April (Good Friday), 5 April (Easter Monday) and 25 April (ANZAC Day), which is mondayised, on 26 April.

Employees can only be required to work on a public holiday if two conditions are met:

  • it falls on a day that they would have normally worked (otherwise working day), and;
  • their employment agreement says they have to work on the public holiday if their employer requires them to.

In all other circumstances, an employee only works on a public holiday if they agree to do so.

All employees who work on a public holiday must be paid at the rate of at least time and a half for the hours worked. If the public holiday is an otherwise working day for the employee, then they must also be given an alternative holiday (‘a day in lieu’).

If an employee is required to be available to work on a public holiday that doesn’t fall within their agreed and guaranteed work hours, this must be covered by an availability clause in their employment agreement. The employer will have to pay reasonable compensation for this unless there is agreement that reasonable compensation is provided through their salary. The employer must also have genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds for including an availability provision and for requiring the employee to be available to work on the public holiday.

An employer can’t take an employee off a staff roster on a public holiday when it’s a day that they would otherwise have worked on, in order to avoid giving the employee public holiday entitlements.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is a restricted shop trading day but not a public holiday.

Easter Sunday is a restricted shop trading day when almost all shops are required to be closed. This acknowledges that Easter Sunday is a day of significance across New Zealand and that some people will choose not to work on this day.

All shop employees have the right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday and they don’t have to give their employer a reason for refusing. Exceptions are shops which can open with conditions including dairies, service stations, take away bars, restaurants and cafes.

The Nelson and Tasman Councils DO NOT allow Easter Sunday trading.

Employers who want a shop employee to work on Easter Sunday and shop employees who don’t want to work on Easter Sunday both have specific responsibilities to each other and need to follow the required process.

Employers’ obligations include to:

  • notify shop employees at least four weeks before the relevant Easter Sunday, but not more than eight weeks before the relevant Easter Sunday.
  • give the notice in writing, and deliver it in person to the employee (this could be in the form of a letter or email, or via a group email or in a manner specified in the shop employee’s employment agreement).

Employees’ obligations include to:

  • notify their employer no later than 14 days from the date of the employer’s notice, if they will be exercising their right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday.
  • give the notice in writing, and deliver it in person to the employer (this could be in the form of a letter or email, or in a manner specified in the shop employee’s employment agreement).

If an employee works on Easter Sunday, they would generally be paid their ordinary rate of pay for a Sunday unless they have agreed to a different rate with their employer.

ANZAC Day 2021 Mondayised

This year, ANZAC day falls on a Sunday meaning it is mondayised and observed on Monday 26 April. This means:

  • If the employee wouldn’t normally work on the Sunday, then their holiday entitlement is transferred to the following Monday, or
  • If the employee would normally work on the Sunday, then they will get their holiday entitlements on the Sunday (the calendar date of the public holiday).

If an employee would normally work on both the calendar date of the public holiday and the mondayisation date, their public holiday is deemed to be on the calendar date. They don’t get two public holidays.

Mondayisation does not affect and is not affected by shop trading restrictions which happen on days such as Easter Sunday and Anzac Day morning. These always apply on the calendar date of certain holidays.

If in doubt about what applies for your team members, please give us a call!

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