It’s time to take the headache out of managing public holidays. Inside this quick guide, you’ll find answers to all the questions you’ve ever had about managing people over a national holiday period. We called it your go-to HR guide for a reason.

New Zealand Public Holidays in 2021

  • New Year’s Day (Friday 1 January)
  • Day after New Year’s Day (Saturday, 2 January or Monday, 4 January)
  • Waitangi Day (Saturday, 6 February or Monday, 8 February)
  • Good Friday (Friday, 2 April)
  • Easter Monday (Monday, 5 April)
  • ANZAC Day (Sunday, 25 April or Monday, 26 April)
  • Queen’s Birthday (Monday, 7 Jun)
  • Labour Day (Monday, 25 October)
  • Christmas Day (Saturday, 25 December or Monday, 27 December)
  • Boxing Day (Sunday, 26 December or Monday, 27 Decemerr)
  • Anniversary Day (Location dependant)

What is a ‘Mondayised’ public holiday?

Mondayisation is the term for when a public holiday that falls on a weekend day, is observed on the next following working day (usually a Monday) so that all workers can get the public holiday benefit. For example, this year the Day after New Year’s Day was Mondayised because it fell on a Saturday. Workers who normally would have worked on Saturday 2  January received a public holiday entitlement, and so did workers who wouldn’t have worked the on Saturday, but would have usually worked on Monday 4 of January.

Common scenarios for calculating public holiday benefits

There are four typical scenarios where workers will require different holiday pay entitlements. Below you’ll find a list of each situation and the related holiday benefits:

  1. If your employee doesn’t work on the public holiday but the public holiday would otherwise be a normal working day:you must pay them their normal daily pay and the day off.
  2. If your employee works on the public holiday, including on-call, and it’s a day your employee would normally work: you must pay them at least time and a half, or their on-call allowance, plus they should get a full alternative day off (day in lieu); unless you onlyemploy them to work on public holidays.
  3. If your employee is working on a public holiday but it’s not a normal working day for them:you’re required to pay them at least time and a half, or their on-call allowance, for working the holiday, without the entitlement of an alternative day off.
  4. If your employee doesn’t work on a public holiday, and it’s not normally a day they would work: you’re not required to pay them for the holiday as it’s not an ordinary working day. For example, someone rostered Monday to Thursday when Christmas Day falls on a Friday).

Asking your employee to work on a public holiday

Under the Holidays Act 2003, your employees are entitled to a maximum of 11 public holidays a year. However, they’re only entitled to a paid public holiday if it falls on their normal day of work.

Employee rights around public holidays can be quite complex, but essentially, your employee can only be required to work on a public holiday if their employment agreement states that they must work when a public holiday falls on their normal working day, or, if they agree to.

You can ask an employee to work on a public holiday, keeping in mind that your request must be reasonable.

An employee may refuse your request if:

  1. your request is not reasonable; or
  2. their refusal is reasonable.

Here are the factors to consider when determining if a request (or refusal) to work on a public holiday is reasonable:

  • The operational requirements of the business.
  • The employee’s personal circumstances (e.g. family or carer’s responsibilities).
  • Whether the employee could reasonably expect to be asked to work on the public holiday.
  • Whether the employee would be compensated with penalty payments, overtime etc.
  • The amount of notice in advance that you gave when making the request, and by the employee when refusing the request.

Public holidays in a leave period

If your business has an office closedown, or an employee is on leave, and a public holiday falls within that period, your workers are still entitled to a paid public holiday that will not be counted as an annual leave day.

Casual workers and public holidays

Casual employees aren’t entitled to alternative days or holiday pay entitlements for working on public holidays.

Workers on ACC or parental leave

If you’re not currently paying an employee because they’re on ACC leave or parental leave, you’re not required to pay them for any public holidays during the unpaid leave period. However, do note that ACC leave is regarded as continuous employment and so annual leave entitlements will still accrue.

Shift work, on-call and public holidays

On-call and shift work are notoriously complex arrangements for working out the public holiday entitlements.

Employees who work a shift and work on a public holiday should receive time and a half for the hours they work. If they would have ordinarily worked on that day, then they also are entitled to an alternative holiday.

For on-call employees, the public holiday entitlement will depend on the type of arrangement you have with that employee. Usually, public holiday entitlements would apply if the employee was unable to enjoy a full holiday due to their on-call requirements.

As this is an area where many of the holiday pay underpayment issues can arise from, we recommend you contact the team at enableHR if you’re unclear on which holiday entitlements to apply.

Swapping public holidays for other days

Sometimes you might have a business reason, or your employee may have a personal reason, for observing a public holiday on a different calendar day. To swap a public holiday you must have agreement in writing.

On termination

Upon termination or resignation of an employee’s service, you must pay them for any public holidays that would have fallen in their available leave period, as if they had taken their annual leave entitlement from the day after the last day of their notice period. For example, someone whose last day of service is 31 January and who has two weeks leave owed to them, would get paid out for the public holiday of Waitangi Day.

For more information about public holiday entitlements, contact the enableHR team.