Guidance for essential businesses on Easter trading during Alert Level 4

On 31 March 2020, the Government announced that during Alert Level 4, supermarkets will be required to be closed as usual on Good Friday but will be able to open on Easter Sunday.

Despite the Alert Level 4, there may be restrictions on the sale of some items on Easter Sunday, as required under the Shop Trading Hours Act. This requires:

  • goods for sale must be food, drink, a household item, a personal item or something that people must reasonably be able to buy at any time
  • the amount of goods for sale is no more than what meets demands of those who live nearby.

Under the Sale of Liquor Act, supermarkets cannot sell or supply liquor on Easter Sunday.

Businesses must remember that:

  • If an employee works on a public holiday, they must be paid at least time-and-a-half for the time worked. Also, if the public holiday falls on a day they would normally work, then the employee also gets an alternative paid holiday (day in lieu).
  • Easter Sunday is not a public holiday, so employees will not be entitled to pay and half and day in lieu. 
  • 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 can offer employees extra pay if they want to get more people to volunteer
  • If an employee thinks they have been compelled to work on Easter Sunday by their employer, or treated adversely because they have chosen not to work, they can take a personal grievance against the employer.
  • On Easter Monday employers still have to comply with minimum employment legislation, and employee entitlements.

Under Alert Level 4, the Labour Inspectorate will not be taking proactive enforcement action against supermarkets who trade on Easter Sunday. However, workers who are compelled to work on Easter Sunday can get in touch with the Inspectorate, who will then consider enforcement action.

Contact the Labour Inspectorate

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