The Christmas and New Year period is fast approaching and no doubt if you haven't already you will be considering pulling those Christmas decorations out of storage and dusting off the Christmas Carol playlists.  This year the Christmas and New Year public holidays fall on Tuesday 25 December, Wednesday 26 December, Tuesday 1 January and Wednesday 2 January meaning that the public holidays are observed on the day that they fall (there is no Mondayisation).

Below is a brief overview of the entitlements for these 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

Under the Holidays Act 2003 Employees are entitled to a maximum of four public holidays over the Christmas and New Year period.  When working out public holiday entitlements over Christmas and New Year's it is important to remember that an employee is only entitled to observe the public holiday once.  An employee cannot be entitled to more than four public holidays over the Christmas and New Year period, regardless of their work pattern.

Clubs New Zealand has produced a flow chart which can be downloaded using the link below, which will help you to determine an employee’s entitlements for the Christmas and New Year's Public Holidays;

pdfFlowchart: determining public holiday entitlements over Christmas and New Years 2018/196.77 MB

As always determining public holiday entitlements all begins with whether the day the public holiday falls is otherwise a working 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) they have the day off with normal pay (relevant daily pay).

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

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

If the employee does not normally work on the day that the Public Holiday falls and they are not required* to work they have their day off as usual and are not entitled to any public holiday entitlements.

If the employee does not normally work on the day the Public Holiday falls and is required* to work, they are entitled to time and a half for the hours worked only, they are not alternative holiday (lieu day).

Other Important Things to Note

Closedowns

If you are intending to closedown you are required to give a minimum of 14 days' notice to staff if you intend to have one.

You can only have one closedown period per year per employee. This can be at different times for different departments or areas.

Staff either take annual leave, unpaid leave or annual leave in advance if you both agree.

There are 4 public Holidays over the xmas period; Christmas Day (25th Dec), Boxing Day (26th Dec), New Years Day (1st Jan) and January 2nd.

If any of these days are in your closedown period you must pay staff for them as if they were working, provided it would have otherwise been a normal working day.

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 Year’s Day (and the day that New Year’s 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. 

Can you insist an employee works on a public holiday?

This question can cause a lot of grief for both employers and employee's particularly when employees are planning on nursing sizeable hangovers on New Year's Day. 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, then yes you can, the wording the employment agreement is key.

The bottom line is that where the public holiday is otherwise a working day for the employee, the employee should not be disadvantaged.

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