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Ask a specialist: what are my obligations in regards to public holidays?”

Ask a specialistJanuary 11, 2017

Question: “What are my obligations in regards to public holidays?”

All employees are entitled to 11 public holiday each year regardless of whether they are casual, fixed term, part-time or full-time employees.

Employees are entitled to a paid day off on a public holiday if the holiday falls on a day they would normally have worked. However, if they work on that public holiday then they are entitled to at least time and a half for hours worked and they also receive an alternative day off if it is an otherwise working day for them. If an employee works on a public holiday then time and a half is the minimum entitlement, and must be included in their Employment Agreement. Employees cannot be paid less than this minimum.

From 1 January 2014, if Waitangi Day or ANZAC Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday and that day would not otherwise be a working day for the employee, then the holiday is transferred to the following Monday. This means the employee still gets a paid day off if the employee would normally work on that day.

Are public holidays able to be transferred?

Employers and employees are able to agree to transfer the observation of public holidays to another working day to meet the needs of the business or individual needs of the employee. If a transfer of a public holiday is agreed upon then it is best practice to document the agreement in writing.

What if an employee is sick or bereaved on a public holiday?

When an employee would have otherwise been working on a public holiday but is sick or bereaved, the day would be treated as a paid unworked public holiday. This means that:

  • the employee would be paid their relevant daily pay or average daily pay, but would not be entitled to time and a half or an alternative holiday
  • no sick or bereavement leave would be deducted

How do alternative holidays (day in lieu) work?

An employee can take the alternative holiday on a day that they would normally work and are entitled to a full working day off even if they did not work a whole day on the public holiday.

An alternative holiday is not applicable if:

  • the employee would not have worked that day
  • the employee normally works public holidays

Alternative holidays should be agreed on between you and your employee, however if they cannot agree on a day then you are able to choose one for them provided that you give them 14 days’ notice.

If an employee does not take their alternative holiday within 12 months of being entitled to one, the employer and employee can agree for the alternative holiday to be exchanged for payment. In this instance, the payment for the alternative holiday is to be agreed upon between the employer and employee and must be payed as soon as practical once the agreement has been made.

Key points to remember in regards to public holidays:

  • all employees are entitled to a paid day off if a public holiday falls on a day the employee would normally work
  • you must ensure that your employees receive the correct pay for public holidays. The minimum payment is time and a half for the actual hours worked
  • include a clause in your Employment Agreements that states whether you require employees to work on public holidays and that they will be paid at least time and a half

If you have a question that you would like an Employsure specialist to answer in next month’s newsletter, please send it to [email protected].

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