As well as their four weeks of annual leave, employees are entitled to 11 public holidays each year (if the public holidays fall on days they’d normally work). Staff who choose to work on public holidays are entitled to be paid time-and-a-half and get a day’s leave to take later.
Work out if you’re paying your employees properly and doing what’s expected.
When a public holiday falls on a day your employee would usually work, no matter how long they’ve been working for you they’re entitled to a paid day off.
You can only require an employee to work on a public holiday if it’s written into their employment agreement. If they agree to work, you must:
Public holiday dates (external link) - Employment New Zealand
Public holiday entitlements (external link) - Employment New Zealand
If you’re a shop owner, your local council may let you open on Easter Sunday. But you can’t make your employees work that day — and they don’t have to give you a reason.
If you plan to open on Easter Sunday, you must give your staff written notice of their right to refuse to work at least four weeks in advance, but not earlier than 8 weeks before.
When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, employees who don’t normally work then will have the following Monday as their paid public holiday. This is known as Mondayisation.
These public holidays can be moved to Monday (or in some cases Tuesday) if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday:
Mondayisation (external link) - Employment New Zealand
If public holidays fall inside your annual closedown period, you must pay employees for those that fall on days they’d usually work — including weekend public holidays moved to Monday or Tuesday.
Calista and her husband Rob run a café near Te Papa in Wellington and employ extra weekend staff to cope with demand.
Calista begins to worry when she realises Waitangi Day falls on a Saturday (for employees who don’t work weekends, this public holiday will be treated as falling on the following Monday). She feels she can’t afford to pay her regular Saturday employees time and a half, plus offer a day in lieu.
But she knows it’s illegal to not roster regularly scheduled employees to avoid their holiday entitlements.
Calista calls a staff meeting to talk about the Waitangi Day roster. She doesn’t ask them to take the day off, but instead asks for thoughts or requests. Two of her regular Saturday employees ask for that day off – one to go to a Waitangi commemorative festival, the other because family will be visiting for the long weekend.
Calista changes the roster, and pays these two workers public holiday pay for Waitangi Day. They’re happy to have the time off to mark the day, or to spend time with relatives, and Calista is relieved to have reduced her holiday weekend wage costs.
Employees who are entitled to a day in lieu get a full day off, no matter how many hours they worked on the public holiday.
They don’t get a day in lieu if:
If you can't agree on when your employee will take a day in lieu, you can choose a day for them – but you have to give them 14 days' notice. After 12 months, if they still haven’t taken the day off, you can agree with them to exchange the time off for an extra day's pay.
Alternative holidays (external link) - Employment New Zealand
Any employee can ask to transfer a public holiday to another day.
Transferring public holidays (external link) - Employment New Zealand