Christmas and New Year Public Holiday Entitlements 2020/21

12 November 2020

The Christmas and New Year period is fast approaching, as of today there are just 43 days until Christmas. This year the Christmas and New Year public holidays fall on Friday 25 December, Saturday 26 December, Friday 1 January and Saturday 2 January.  Christmas Day and New Years day will be observed on the day that they fall.  Boxing Day and the Day after New Years will be subject to Mondayisation.

Mondayisation always throws up a few curly questions so it is important that you take the time to ensure that you fully understand your employees entitlements.

Below is a brief overview of the entitlements for these holidays, if you require further information please contact Clubs New Zealand on 0800 4 CLUBS or visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website at www.employment.govt.nz

Under the Holidays Act 2003 Employees are entitled to a maximum of four public holidays over the Christmas and New Year period.  When working out public holiday entitlements over Christmas and New Year's it is important to remember that an employee is only entitled to observe the public holiday once.  An employee cannot be entitled to more than four public holidays over the Christmas and New Year period, regardless of their work pattern.

Mondayisation only occurs for employees where the Public Holiday (in this case Saturday) is not otherwise a working day.  If the employee normally works a Saturday that is the day they will observe the Public Holiday.

Clubs New Zealand has produced two flow charts which can be downloaded using the link below, these charts are designed to help you determine an employee’s entitlements for the Christmas and New Year's Public Holidays;

Flowchart: determining public holiday entitlements for Christmas Day and New Years Day 2020/21

Flowchart: determining public holiday entitlements for Boxing Day and Day After New Years 2020/21

As always determining public holiday entitlements all begins with whether the day the public holiday falls is otherwise a working day for the employee.

Christmas Day and New Years Day (Fall on a Friday and are not subject to Mondayisation)

An employee who normally works on the day the Public Holiday falls (Friday):

If the employee normally works on the day that the Public Holiday falls and they are not required* to work (are given the public holiday off) they have the day off with normal pay (relevant daily pay).

If the employee normally works on the day the Public Holiday and is required* to work, they are entitled to time and a half for the hours worked plus an alternative holiday (lieu day).

An employee who does not normally work on the day the Public Holiday falls (Friday):

If the employee does not normally work on the day that the Public Holiday falls and they are not required* to work they have their day off as usual and are not entitled to any public holiday entitlements.

If the employee does not normally work on the day the Public Holiday falls and is required* to work, they are entitled to time and a half for the hours worked only, they are not alternative holiday (lieu day).

Boxing Day and Day After New Years (Fall on a Saturday and are subject to Mondayisation)

An employee who normally works on the day the Public Holiday falls (Saturday):

For employees who normally work on the day the public holiday falls in this case Saturday then it is relatively straight forward to determine their entitlements as the public holiday is observed on the day it falls (Saturday 26th December and/or Saturday 2nd January).

If the employee normally works on the day that the Public Holiday falls and they are not required to work (are given the public holiday off) they have the day off with normal pay (relevant daily pay).

If the employee normally works on a Saturday and is required to work, they are entitled to time and a half for the hours worked plus an alternative holiday (lieu day).

For employees who normally work a Saturday this is the day they will observe the public holiday (the Public Holiday is not Mondayised) and they will have no further entitlements on the Monday regardless of whether Monday is also considered an otherwise working day.

An employee who does not normally work on the day the Public Holiday falls (Saturday) but usually works on a Monday:

The employee works on Saturday and not Monday: In this situation the employee would be paid their normal rate for working Saturday. The employee will then have the day off on Monday and will be entitled to be paid their relevant daily pay or average daily pay.

The employee works on the Monday and not Saturday: As the employee does not usually work a Saturday this is a normal day off and the public holiday entitlements are transferred to the Monday. The employee will be paid time and a half for the hours worked on Monday and they will also receive a paid alternative holiday (day in lieu).

The employee works both days (Saturday and Monday): The employee will be paid their normal rate for the hours worked on Saturday and time and a half for the hours worked on Monday. The employee will also receive an alternative holiday (day in lieu).

The employee does not work either day: As they employee does not usually work a Saturday this is a normal day off and the public holiday entitlements are transferred to the Monday. The employee will then have the day off on Monday and will be entitled to be paid their relevant daily pay or average daily pay.

An employee who does not normally work on the day the Public Holiday falls (Saturday) and does not normally work on a Monday:

The employee works on Saturday and not Monday: The employee will be paid time and a half for working Saturday, there are no further entitlements on the Monday. They are not entitled to an alternative holiday (day in lieu).

The employee works on Monday and not Saturday: The Saturday is a normal day off with no holiday entitlements for the employee as the pubic holiday is transferred to Monday. The employee will be paid time and a half for the hours worked on Monday. They are not entitled to an alternative holiday (day in lieu).

The employee works both days: The employee will be paid their normal rate for working on Saturday and paid time and a half for working Monday. They are not entitled to an alternative holiday (day in lieu).

The employee does not work either day: These are normal days off for the employee, they are not entitled to any payment for Saturday or Monday and are not entitled to an alternative holiday (day in lieu).

Other Important Things to Note

Closedowns

If you are intending to closedown you are required to give a minimum of 14 days' notice to staff if you intend to have one.

You can only have one closedown period per year per employee. This can be at different times for different departments or areas.

Staff either take annual leave, unpaid leave or annual leave in advance if you both agree.

There are 4 public Holidays over the Christmas period; Christmas Day (25th Dec), Boxing Day (26th Dec), New Years Day (1st Jan) and January 2nd.

If any of these days are in your closedown period you must pay staff for them as if they were working, provided it would have otherwise been a normal working day.

Alternative Holidays

The entitlement to an alternative holiday is irrespective of the time worked on the public holiday.  For example, where an employee works from 5pm on December 31st to 3am on New Year’s Day (and the day that New Year’s Day falls is otherwise a working day for that employee), that employee is entitled to a whole alternative holiday paid at the employee's relevant daily pay for the day the alternative holiday is taken.

The employee's alternative holiday entitlement can be used at any time on the agreement of the employee and the employer so long as the day it is taken is considered an otherwise working day for the employee. 

Can you insist an employee works on a public holiday?

This question can cause a lot of grief for both employers and employee's particularly when employees are planning on nursing sizeable hangovers on New Year's Day. The short answer is if the public holiday falls on a normal working day for the employee and the employee's employment agreement includes a clause allowing the employer to require the employee to work a public holiday, then yes you can, the wording the employment agreement is key.

The bottom line is that where the public holiday is otherwise a working day for the employee, the employee should not be disadvantaged.

What if an employee falls sick or is bereaved on a public holiday?

Where the employee would have been working on a public holiday but is sick or bereaved, the day would be treated as a paid unworked public holiday. Therefore:

  • the employee would be paid their relevant daily pay or average daily pay, but would not be entitled to time and a half or an alternative holiday
  • no sick or bereavement leave would be deducted.

Further Information on Public Holidays

If you require further information please contact Clubs New Zealand on 0800 4 CLUBS or visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website at www.employment.govt.nz 

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