With Easter coming up at the end of March now is the time to get prepared.  Easter Friday falls on Friday 30th March and Easter Monday is on Monday 2nd April.  It is also important to remember that while not a public holiday Easter Sunday does have its own set of rules you must be familiar with. 

Below is a quick overview of the public holiday entitlements, if you require further information please contact National Office or visit the employment.govt.nz website.

The public holidays with employee entitlements over Easter are;

  • Good Friday – Friday 30th March 2018
  • Easter Monday – Monday 2nd April 2018

There is often confusion regarding Easter Sunday as trading restrictions apply. Easter Sunday is not a public holiday under the Holidays Act 2003 however we urge you to read the information on Easter Sunday below covering Employees right to refuse to work.

As with all public holidays the first step is to determine whether the day the public holiday falls is considered otherwise a working day for the employee, i.e. does the employee normally work on a Monday in the case of Easter Monday?

Understanding whether the day is considered otherwise a working day or not will enable you to determine each employee’s entitlements for the day.

An employee who normally works on the day the Public Holiday falls

If the employee normally works on the day that the Public Holiday falls and they are not required to work (are given the public holiday off) then they have the day off with normal pay (relevant daily pay).

If the employee normally works on the day the Public Holiday falls and is required to work, they are entitled to time and a half for the hours worked pay plus an alternative holiday (lieu day).

An employee who does not normally work on the day the Public Holiday falls

For an employee who does not normally work on the day the Public Holiday falls, they have their day off as normal and are not entitled to any pay or alternative holidays.

Employees who do not normally work the day the Public Holiday falls that are required to work* are entitled to be paid time and a half for the hours worked but are not entitled to an alternative holiday.

*Note that in order to require an employee to work on a public holiday that would not otherwise be considered a working day a written employment agreement must be in place that specifies that the employee can be required to work on public holidays.

Alternative Holidays

The entitlement to an alternative holiday is irrespective of the time worked on the public holiday.  For example, where an employee works from 5pm on March 29th to 3am on Good Friday (and the day that Good Friday falls is otherwise a working day for that employee), that employee is entitled to a whole alternative holiday paid at the employee's relevant daily pay for the day the alternative holiday is taken.

Alternative holidays are taken on agreement between employers and employees and must be on a day that would otherwise be a working day for that employee, the employee's alternative holiday entitlement can be used at any time on the agreement of the employee and the employer so long as the day it is taken is considered an otherwise working day for the employee.

Easter Sunday Trading - Giving Notice to Employees

Easter Sunday always causes a little confusion because while it is not a public holiday under the Holidays Act 2003 it is subject to Trading Restrictions under the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Act 2016.

In 2016 provisions were introduced under the Shop Trading Amendment Act which means employers can no longer compel their employees to work on Easter Sunday or treat them adversely for refusing to work.  A provision in an employment agreement which requires a shop employee to work on Easter Sunday is unenforceable.

Traditionally clubs have not been subject to Trading Restrictions because they are not included in section 47 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.  However The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's position is that restaurants, bars, and cafes (including those in commercial accommodation) are classified as 'shops' under the Shop Trading Amendment Act as they sell goods (such as food).  While your club can open and trade as usual on Easter Sunday you must be mindful that you cannot require or compel employees to work Easter Sunday.

Under the Act 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.

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

If an employer wants employees to work on Easter Sunday, they must follow a specific process to let their employees know (in writing) that they have a right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday. This process must be completed each year an employer wants an employee to work on Easter Sunday and can’t just be written into the employment agreement.

If an employer can’t open their shop on Easter Sunday (due to their territorial authority not having a local policy, ability to open with conditions or existing area exemption) but still wants shop employees to work, (eg to stack shelves or do stock taking), they must still follow the same process. This is because the law change gives all shop employees the right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday.

Employers Must:

  • Notify the employees in writing that they have a right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday.
  • Deliver the notice to the employee. This could be in the form of a letter or memo delivered in person, or by email or via group email or in a way that is specified in the employment agreement. This must be done at least four weeks before the relevant Easter Sunday, but no earlier than eight weeks before the Easter Sunday. If an employee has started work within four weeks of the relevant Easter Sunday the employer must give this notice (of the right to refuse) as close to the start date of the employee’s employment as possible.

If an employer doesn’t follow the notice requirements and requires an employee to work on Easter Sunday, this is considered to be compelling them to work and the employee could bring a personal grievance.

Shop employees who are given notice of their right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday and want to refuse to work, must give notice of this to their employer.

If an employee is going to refuse work on Easter Sunday they must:

  • let the employer know in writing no later than 14 days from the date they received their employer’s notice.
  • deliver the notice to the employer. This could be in the form of a letter or memo delivered in person, or by email or in a way that is specified in the employment agreement.

If the employee doesn’t follow these notice requirements, and their employment agreement has a clause stating that they can be required to work on Easter Sunday, their employer can require them to work.

It is important that clubs comply with this law, while we do not agree that clubs and other hospitality establishments should be treated as 'shops' the Act is yet to be tested in the Courts and it is best practice to comply.  If you have not manged to follow the processes outlined above we recommend you speak immediately with each of your staff on an individual basis.