Public holidays

Employees have minimum rights that apply to public holidays.

Employees get a paid day off on public holidays if it’s an otherwise working day for them. An otherwise working day is a day that an employee would have been working had the day not been a public holiday. If a public holiday falls during a period when an employee is taking a planned time off without pay or is being paid by ACC, they would not normally receive any payment for that day.

Otherwise working day

If they work on a public holiday they’re paid time and a half, and may get an alternative day off. 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 moved to the Monday (or in some cases Tuesday) and is known as ‘mondayisation’.

Public holidays falling on a weekend 

Maximum entitlement

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)
  • an employee can’t be entitled to more than four public holidays over the Christmas and New Year period, regardless of their work pattern.
  • 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 the employee can only claim one Anniversary Day per year. Both parties can agree to transfer the observance of the public holiday if they wish. If they cannot reach an agreement, then the employee is entitled to observe the anniversary of the province that they usually work in (Auckland, in this example). If they were to work on the day, they’d be paid time and a half, plus an alternative day.

Transferring a public holiday

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. 

Having to work on 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 holiday 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

Holidays and anniversary dates

New Zealand public holiday and anniversary dates from 2021 to 2024.

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: 25 February 2021

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