Working on a public holiday

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Janine Gartner

An employee is entitled to a full alternative day off if they work on a public holiday — no matter how many hours they worked that day.

But they don’t get an alternative day off — also called a day in lieu — if:

  • they only ever work public holidays
  • they wouldn’t normally have worked that day
  • they were on call but didn’t work, and being on call didn’t stop them doing what they wanted to with their day.

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 casual, fixed-term, part-time or full-time. 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 if the public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday that the employee would not otherwise work on.

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 the day the public holiday has been transferred to), and
  • whether or not it would normally be a working day (otherwise working day) for them (ie if it wasn’t 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.

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

To find out more click here.

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