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Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day: All You Need to Know

Published September 13, 2022 (last updated on May 15, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made the announcement that a one-off public holiday will be held on 26 September as a national day of mourning. The holiday will be called Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day.

The sudden announcement has raised concerns among business owners about the timing of the memorial day. Businesses feel pressured due to the high costs of staying open on a public holiday. On the other hand, closing shop means loss of daily earnings.

So, what can businesses do? How can they cope with this unexpected situation?

Preparing for a public holiday

Why is this public holiday different? Basically, businesses need time to prepare for a public holiday. Since nobody was expecting it, they have no alternate plans or solutions for this challenge. With around 14 days’ notice, they must take a quick decision and pivot. Do they keep working? Or should they close trading for the day?

If you want to keep your business open then you will have to pay public holiday rates to employees. This indicates an increase in costs to business.

There would be additional staffing costs and scheduling challenges. It will be tricky for smaller businesses such as hairdressing and salons as they would be working on appointment basis. If they decide to stay open, they will have to probably run at a loss due to the increased costs to staffing. They may lose business if they decide to close trading for the day.

Challenges of an unscheduled public holiday

Treasury estimates an extra public holiday costs $450 million to the economy. However, this amount does not take into account the money earned by people in the community while out and about on the holiday.  

While some businesses can capitalise on the unscheduled holiday and maximise their earnings, there are some businesses that have no option but to shut shop. Businesses relying on supply chains for daily stock are also concerned as parts of the supply chain may not be operating. Some industries would be forced to operate due to agreements or contracts. For example, the events industry which has contracts and ticket prices locked-in may not have the option to reschedule or increase earnings.

What does it mean for you?

There are two types of public holidays with differing entitlements applying to each:

  • Christmas and New Year: Christmas Day (25 December, Boxing Day (26 December), New Year’s Day and the day after (1 and 2 January).

  • All other holidays: Waitangi Day (6 February), Good Friday and Easter Monday (dates variable), ANZAC Day (25 April), Queen’s Birthday (first Monday in June), Matariki (dates variable), Labour Day (fourth Monday in October), Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day (one-off public holiday observed 26 September 2022 only) and Provincial Anniversary Day (date determined locally)

Do you know your obligations as an employer? Call our 24/7 Advice line to get all your tricky questions answered.

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