Labour Day is fast approaching and this year falls on Monday 22nd October (fourth Monday in October).  Labour Day is always observed on the day it falls and is not subject to 'mondayisation', calculating employee entitlements for labour day should be simple and can be done with the click of a button in most payroll systems.

As with all public holidays you first need to establish if the day the public holiday falls would otherwise be a working day for the employee.  In most cases it’s easy to work out whether or not an employee would have normally worked on the day in question (known as an otherwise working day) because the working pattern or roster is constant and the employer and employee can agree about whether the employee would otherwise have worked that day.

When an employee does not have a clear work pattern or there’s a lot of variation in work times, it may be harder to decide if a day is an otherwise working day. You can use the Otherwise working day calculator on the employment website to work it out. It will take about 15 minutes to work through all the steps of the Otherwise working day calculator.

Visit the otherwise a working day calculator

Entitlements when an Employee is required to work on Labour Day

If an employee is required to work on Labour Day, that work is paid at a minimum of time and a half for the time they actually work on the day.  If the day is also "otherwise a working day" for the employee (the employee would normally work on a Monday) they are also entitled to an alternative holiday.  If an Employee does not normally work on a Monday they are not entitled to the alternative holiday.

Entitlements when an Employee is not required to work on Labour Day

If an employee normally works on a Monday but is not required to work on Labour Day (the employee is given the public holiday off) the Employee is paid for the public holiday as if they had worked as normal on the day and are entitled to be paid their "relevant daily pay" or "average daily pay".  For most employees working a regular pattern of hours, they pay cycle will continue unchanged.

Where an employee does not normally work a Monday and is not required to work on Labour Day there is no entitlement and they have their day off as normal.

Other Important Things to Note

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 December 31st to 3am on New Years Day (and the day that New Years Day 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.

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.  The alternative holiday does not need to be taken on the Monday is Mondayisation applies to that public holiday.

Can you insist an employee works on a public holiday?

This question can cause a lot of grief for both employers and employee's. The short answer is if the public holiday falls on a normal working day for the employee and the employee's employment agreement includes a clause allowing the employer to require the employee to work a public holiday, than yes you can, the wording the employment agreement is key.

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

Where the employee would have been working on a public holiday but is sick or bereaved, the day would be treated as a paid unworked public holiday. Therefore:

  • 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.

Further Information on Public Holidays

If you require further information please contact Clubs New Zealand on 0800 4 CLUBS or visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website at www.employment.govt.nz