Easter is coming up so now is the time to get across holiday leave obligations so you can be confident in the information you deliver to employees or colleagues.

Most of the NZ public holidays fall in the first half of the year. For contingency and forward planning, this Stuff article might give you some insight for what you could expect for leave applications in 2020.

General rules

  • When a public holiday falls on a day an employee would usually work, no matter how long they’ve been working for the business, they’re entitled to a paid day off.
  • Employees can only be asked to work on a public holiday if it’s written into their employment agreement. If they agree to work, they are then entitled to time and a half pay, and a day in lieu (alternative holiday) later. This is a full day, no matter how many hours they worked on the public holiday. More about alternative holidays
  • An employee is permitted to request changing a public holiday from one day to another, and the employer must consider the request (unless you have a policy that prevents transferring public holidays), however it can be declined. Agreements must be put in writing.
  • When certain public holidays fall on a Saturday or Sunday, employees who don’t normally work weekends will then have the following Monday as their paid public holiday. More about Mondayisation of public holidays
  • If public holidays fall inside your annual closedown period, you must pay employees for those that fall on days they’d usually work — including weekend public holidays moved to Monday or Tuesday.

Easter holiday rules

  • Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays.
  • Most businesses must be closed on Good Friday legally, but if you’re open for business, your employee has chosen to work and they usually work on a Friday, then they’re entitled to time and a half and a day in lieu.
  • If your employee works on Good Friday but they don’t usually work on Friday’s, they are entitled to time and a half but no day in lieu.
  • Easter Sunday is not a public holiday — if you’re trading, your employees will be paid their usual Sunday rate and no paid day off later.
  • If you’re a shop owner, your local council  may let you open on Easter Sunday (as is the case for many in Queenstown Lakes District). However, you can’t make your employees work that day.  More about Easter trading rules

Employment advice

Human resources is a complex role which needs to be managed sensitively and according to legal guidelines. If you’re a small or medium business owner, there are some great options available:

  1. Consider becoming a member of a supportive, online employment law advisory organisation such as Employers Assistance.
  2. Research whether taking on an external contractor to manage your human resources would be a viable option for your business. It is certainly an area where it pays to have professional assistance!
  3. Contact Employment New Zealand on 0800 20 90 20 or email info@employment.govt.nz.