• Trish Hall

Public Holidays - who gets them?

Updated: Feb 26


There are 11 public holidays each year, they are:

  • New Year’s Day,

  • 2 January,

  • Waitangi Day,

  • Good Friday,

  • Easter Monday,

  • ANZAC Day,

  • Labour Day,

  • Queen’s Birthday,

  • the regional Anniversary Day,

  • Christmas

  • and Boxing Day.


So what entitlements do staff have?


Where a public holiday falls on an otherwise working day for an employee, and they have the day off, they will be paid their relevant daily pay for that day.


Where a public holiday falls on an otherwise working day for an employee, and they work, then they will be paid the greater of:

  • the portion of the employee’s relevant daily pay or average daily pay (less any penal rates) that relates to the time actually worked on the day plus half that amount again or;

  • the portion of the employee’s relevant daily pay that relations to the time actually worked on the day.


An employee is entitled to an alternative day’s holidays where they work on a Public Holiday and the day is an otherwise working day for them. Alternative days holidays will be taken where parties agree on the timing and duration.


If a public holiday is not an otherwise working day, and the employee works, they will be paid time and a half for the hours worked. There is no entitlement to an alternative days holiday in this situation.


How do you know if the day is an otherwise working day?

Check the hours of work clause in your employment agreement. What is in the roster? What is the pattern of work? All of these things can help determine the answer. You may be surprised to learn that your 'casual' employee has an entitlement to more leave than you bargained for - it all depends on their hours, what's common/normal for them, what's agreed upon, how/where the work comes from and what the intention is.


Transfer of public holidays over Christmas and New Year

For the four public holidays in this period (Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year, 2 January) if one on of those days:

  • falls on a Saturday and the day would otherwise be a working day for the employee, the public holiday must be treated as falling on that day:

  • falls on a Saturday and the day would not otherwise be a working day for the employee, the public holiday must be treated as falling on the following Monday:

  • falls on a Sunday and the day would otherwise be a working day for the employee, the public holiday must be treated as falling on that day:

  • falls on a Sunday and the day would not otherwise be a working day for the employee, the public holiday must be treated as falling on the following Tuesday. To avoid doubt, this section does not entitle an employee to more than 4 public holidays for the days in this period.


Transfer of Waitangi or ANZAC Day


If Waitangi Day or ANZAC Day:

  • falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, and the day would otherwise be a working day for the employee, the public holiday must be treated as falling on that day:

  • falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, and the day would not otherwise be a working day for the employee, the public holiday must be treated as falling on the following Monday. To avoid doubt, this does not entitle an employee to more than 1 public holiday for Waitangi Day or more than 1 public holiday for ANZAC Day.


Transfering whole or part of Public Holidays.

Employees can swap the observation of a public holiday to another day, with the agreement of their employer. This can be done for a variety of reasons (i.e., swapping New Years for Chinese New Year) and it does not increase the number of public holidays an employee gets.

It might also be done because of shift work - see "transferring a whole or part day below". For example:

An employee is to work from 10 pm on 24 April to 6 am on Anzac Day and from 10 pm on Anzac Day to 6 am on 26 April.

The employer and employee can agree to treat 10 pm to midnight on Anzac Day as not part of a public holiday in exchange for treating a period of 24 hours that finishes on Anzac Day as a public holiday. Just when the 24-hour period starts before or finishes after a work period is a matter for the parties to agree on. For instance, they could agree that it runs from midday on 24 April to midday on Anzac Day.


Requirements for alternative holidays

An alternative holiday must—
  • be taken by the employee on a day that is agreed between the employer and employee; and

  • be a day that would otherwise be a working day for the employee; and

  • be a whole working day off work for the employee, regardless of the amount of time the employee actually worked on the public holiday; and

  • not be taken on a public holiday.


If an employer and employee cannot agree on when an alternative holiday is to be taken, the day must be taken on a date determined, on a reasonable basis, by the employer, giving the employee at least 14 days’ notice of the requirement to take the alternative holiday.


Relationship between being on-call and receiving an alternative day.


Generally speaking, an employee who is on-call and who is called out is entitled to an alternative day. Also, an employee who is on-call and who is not called out but whose day is restricted because of being on-call and they have not been able to enjoy a holiday is entitled to an alternative day.


Can you pay out alternative days?


Yes, but only after 12 months of the employee earning it. An employee can make such a request to the employer and if the employer agrees the payment should be made as soon as possible.


For more information give me a call! 0212077040




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