Employees are entitled to a paid day off on a public holiday, if they would have worked on that day if it wasn’t a public holiday (i.e. the public holiday falls on an ‘otherwise working day’ for the employee).
There are 11 public holidays. The public holidays are: Christmas and New Year: Christmas Day (25 December), Boxing Day (26 December), New Year’s Day and the day after (1 and 2 January), Waitangi Day (6 February) ANZAC Day (25 April), Good Friday and Easter Monday (dates vary), Queen’s Birthday (first Monday in June), Labour Day (fourth Monday in October) and the relevant provincial Anniversary Day (date determined locally).
An employee is not entitled to more than four public holidays over the Christmas and New Year period, regardless of their work pattern, or more than 11 public holidays in one year.
An employer and employee can agree to transfer a public holiday.
Payment when the employee doesn’t work on a public holiday
If an employee doesn’t work on a public holiday that is an otherwise working day for them, the employee is paid their relevant daily pay (or average daily pay if applicable) for the day. For most employees working a regular pattern of hours, the pay cycle continues unchanged. If the public holiday is on a day that is not an otherwise working day for the employee, and they don’t work on it, they are not entitled to a payment for the day. For example, an employee who doesn’t work on Fridays is not entitled to any payment for Good Friday (unless they work).
Payment for working on public holidays
If an employee works on any public holiday, they are paid at least time and a half for the time they actually work on the day. The employee is entitled to the greater of either: the portion of the employee’s relevant daily pay (not including penal rates) that relates to the time actually worked on the day, multiplied by 1.5 (i.e. time and a half) or the portion of the employee’s relevant daily pay (including any penal rates) that relates to the time actually worked on the day.
Employees with penal rates are not entitled to time and a half on top of the penal rate in the employment agreement. Employees should be paid on the basis of relevant daily pay (rather than average daily pay) for working on a public holiday.
Where an employee is specifically employed only to work on public holidays (for example, an employee who is only employed to work at the racetrack for the Waitangi Day meeting), they are not entitled to an alternative day’s holiday, but they must still be paid at least time and a half. Some employment agreements specify a salary rate with unspecified hours or patterns of work. Employees on these agreements must be paid at least time and a half for the time actually worked if they work on a public holiday.
Public holidays during a close-down period
If a business has a close-down period that includes public holidays (e.g. over the Christmas and New Year period) then the employee is entitled to a paid public holiday(s) if it falls on a day that would otherwise be a working day for them if the close-down were not in effect.
Payment where an employee is sick, bereaved or affected by domestic violence on a public holiday
If an employee was going to work on a public holiday but is sick, or is affected by domestic violence or bereaved, the day is treated as a paid unworked public holiday: the employee would just receive their relevant daily pay (or average daily pay if applicable), no sick, bereavement or domestic violence leave would be deducted.