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Public holidays

Employees have minimum rights that apply to public and annual holidays.

Sandwich: Hey, can we take holidays? 

Coffee Cup: Sure. Every worker is entitled to annual and public holidays.

Lamington: Where you gonna go?

Sandwich: Somewhere with decent coffee!

Sandwich: Get more info about staff holidays here on Employment.govt.nz

There are 11 public holidays (also known as statutory or ‘stat’ holidays) provided under the Holidays Act 2003. All employees are entitled to public holiday benefits whether they are part-time, full-time or on fixed-term or ‘casual’ employment agreements. Public holidays are in addition to annual holidays and there’s no minimum period of time an employee has to be employed to get public holiday benefits.

Some public holidays are Mondayised (or Tuesdayised) if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday if those days were not days that an employee would otherwise work on.

An employee is entitled to a public holiday only if the public holiday falls on a day that the employee would otherwise have worked (if the day hadn’t been a public holiday).

Sometimes, if a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday and the employee does not usually work on those days, the public holiday is Mondayised (or Tuesdayised).  

Each employee can get a maximum of 11 public holidays a year, for example:

  • if a public holiday is Mondayised, they can’t claim two public holidays (ie one for the actual date and one for the Mondayised date)
  • if the employee is usually based in Auckland, but is temporarily based in Wellington, the Anniversary Day to be observed is a matter to be agreed by the employer and the employee, but they can only claim one Anniversary Day per year.
  • an employee can’t be entitled to more than four public holidays over the Christmas and New Year period, regardless of their work pattern.

What an employee gets for a public holiday depends on:

  • whether or not they actually work on the holiday (or on the day the public holiday has been transferred to), and
  • whether or not the day is a day they would otherwise have worked were it not for the fact that it was a public holiday. 

An employee can only be made to work on a public holiday if:

  • it falls on a day that they would have otherwise worked on, and
  • their employment agreement says they have to work on the public holiday.

If an employee is required to be available to work on a public holidays that doesn’t fall within their agreed and guaranteed hours, this must be covered by an availability clause in their employment agreement. The employer will have to pay reasonable compensation for this unless there is agreement that reasonable compensation is provided through their salary. The employer must also have genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds for including an availability provision and for requiring the employee to be available on the public holiday. For more information about availability provisions, see Hours of work.

In all other circumstances, an employee only works on a public holiday if they agree to.

Otherwise working day

Public holidays falling on a weekend

When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, an employee’s public holiday might be moved to the following Monday (or in some cases Tuesday).

Falls within leave period

What happens when a public holiday falls within a period of leave such as annual, sick and bereavement leave or during a business close-down period.

Employees working shifts or on call

Public holidays for employees working shifts or on call.

Transferring by agreement

An employer and employee may agree that an entire public holiday will be observed on another day for the employee.

Restricted shop trading days

There are three and a half days each year when almost all shops are required to be closed. Exceptions are shops which can open with conditions, have area exemptions or Easter Sunday local policies.

Page last revised: 8 May 2018

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