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Easter and Anzac Public Holidays 2017

Easter Weekend

Easter 2017 falls on Friday 14 April (Good Friday) through to Monday 17 April (Easter Monday). Both Friday and Monday are Public Holidays and will attract time-and-a-half rates for employees who work. If either of these days is a normal working day for the employee, he/she will also be entitled to an alternative holiday (day in lieu).

Saturday 15 April and Easter Sunday 16 April are not Public Holidays, and employees who work these days should be paid as normal. No additional entitlements apply, but there are strict rules around shop trading on Easter Sunday which employers need to be aware of.

Restricted Shop Trading on Easter Sunday

The Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 was amended in 2016 to enable territorial authorities (i.e. local councils) to decide whether retailers in their districts can open on Easter Sunday. They can create policies to allow shop trading throughout their district or only in limited areas, but cannot override shop trading provisions covered in other legislation, such as defining opening hours, liquor licensing provisions or determining which types of shops may open. Refer to www.employment.govt.nz for more information.

An important change to the law allows shop employees to refuse to work on Easter Sunday. The employees don’t have to provide a reason for their refusal.

Employers who want a shop employee to work on Easter Sunday must:

  • Inform the employees of the requirement to work on Easter Sunday and notify them in writing that they have the right of refusal
  • Provide the notice to the employee at least four weeks before Easter Sunday.

If an employer does not follow the correct notice requirements and then insists that an employee work on Easter Sunday, this could be considered grounds for a personal grievance.

Shop employees who don’t wish to work on Easter Sunday must:

  • Let the employer know in writing no later than 14 days from the date they receive the employer’s notice that they do not want to work.

If a shop employee doesn’t follow these notice requirements, and their employment agreement states that they can be required to work on Easter Sunday, the employer can require the employee to work.

If a shop employee declines to work on Easter Sunday but the shop is open and/or work is made available such as stock taking or shelf stacking, the employee may decide to take a day’s leave or be unpaid for the day. The employee may not be treated unfairly or be disadvantaged in any way as a result of their refusal to work, provided both parties have followed the notice requirements set out in the Act.

ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day falls on Tuesday 25 April this year. This is a Public Holiday and employees who work will be entitled to time-and-a-half rates for all hours worked. If Tuesday is a normal working day for the employee, he/she will also be entitled to an alternative holiday (day in lieu) to be taken at a later stage.

Note: If the employee is not needed on the Public Holiday, it is often cost-effective for the employer to allow the employee to take the day off rather than having to pay public holiday rates.

The Holidays Act provides for the transference of public holidays if the parties agree. Employers and employees could agree to treat Monday 24 April as a Public Holiday instead of the Tuesday, thus providing staff with a three-day weekend. Tuesday 25 April would then be treated as an ordinary working day.

 Note: This would probably only be worth considering for those businesses not affected by the restricted shop trading rules as set out in the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 preventing retailers from opening until 1pm on ANZAC Day.

If employers wish to close their businesses on Monday 24 April, making a four-day weekend, they could negotiate with staff to take a day’s leave. Failing agreement in good faith, employers would have to provide employees with 14 days’ notice of the requirement to take a day’s leave. If the required notice is not given in time and the employer still wishes to close the business, employees would need to be paid for the day or be provided with work.

Paying employees on Public Holidays

When paying employees for public holidays there are two questions employers need to answer:

  1. If it were not for the Public Holiday would the employee be working?
  2. How many hours would the employee normally work on that day (including overtime, commission, bonuses etc.)? This would be calculated as the employee’s Relevant Daily Pay. If it is not possible to work out the number of hours an employee would have worked (for example, if the number of hours varies from day to day and from week to week), then use the Average Daily Pay calculation (i.e. averaged over the previous 52 weeks).