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Communtity Law Manual | Employment: Conditions & protections | Public holidays (“Statutory” holidays like Xmas Day)

Holidays and annual leave

Public holidays (“Statutory” holidays like Xmas Day)

What public holidays am I entitled to?

Holidays Act 2003, ss 46, 44

You’re entitled to a paid day off on a public holiday if this would otherwise be a working day for you. There are 11 paid public holidays in a year (these are sometimes called “statutory” holidays). These are:

  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day
  • New Year’s Day
  • 2 January
  • Waitangi Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • ANZAC Day
  • Queen’s Birthday (first Monday in June)
  • Labour Day (fourth Monday in October)
  • the local anniversary day.

Transferring a public holiday to a different date

Holidays Act 2003, s 44A

If you start work on one day and finish on another (if you work a night shift, for example), and one or both of those days is a public holiday, you and your employer can agree to transfer the public holiday to another 24-hour period that starts or ends on the public holiday and covers your entire work shift. The agreement must be in writing and it can’t reduce the number of paid public holidays that would otherwise be available to you in any given year.

You and your employer can agree that in your case a particular public holiday will be transferred to a different date. However, this must not reduce the total number of paid public holidays that you’re otherwise entitled to in any year.

Holidays Act 2003, s 44B

The following conditions must be met for the transfer to be valid:

  • The transfer must be in writing.
  • The public holiday and the date to which it’s being transferred must both be identified.
  • The public holiday being transferred must otherwise be a working day for you.
  • The day to which the holiday is being transferred must otherwise be a working day for you and must not be another public holiday.
  • The purpose of the transfer can’t be to prevent you being entitled to higher pay for working on public holidays. (However, it’s allowable for the transfer to have that effect, so long as this wasn’t the reason for it.)

What if a public holiday falls on a weekend?

Holidays Act 2003, s 45

Special arrangements apply to the four public holidays over the Christmas and New Year period (Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and 2 January). If one of those holidays falls on a weekend, and you don’t normally work on the weekend, the holiday is transferred to the following Monday or Tuesday.

If the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday and you do normally work on that day, the holiday is observed on that day and you’re entitled to have that day off on pay.

If Waitangi Day (6 February) or ANZAC Day (25 April) falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then those holidays are “Monday-ised”, so that if you don’t usually work on that day the holiday is transferred to the following Monday. If you do usually work on that weekend day, then the holiday is treated as falling on that day. This issue doesn’t arise for the remaining public holidays, as they always fall on a Friday (Good Friday) or on a Monday (Easter Monday, Queen’s Birthday, Labour Day and local anniversary days).

Can I be made to work on a public holiday?

Holidays Act 2003, s 47

You can be required to work on a public holiday if it falls on a day that you would normally work, and your employment agreement requires you to work the public holiday.

Am I entitled to any benefits if I work on a public holiday?

Holidays Act 2003, ss 50, 56, 57, 60, 61

If you’re required to work on a public holiday you must be given an alternative paid day off in the place of the public holiday worked, and you must also be paid at least time and a half for the time you actually worked.

The issue of when you will take the alternative holiday is to be agreed between you and your employer. If you can’t agree, your employer can require you to take the alternative holiday on a particular day, so long as that day is reasonable and you’re given 14 days’ notice.

If 12 months have passed since the public holiday you worked, you can ask to have the alternative holiday paid out. If your employer agrees to this, they must pay you the agreed amount as soon as practicable.

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