As well as their four weeks of annual leave, employees are entitled to 11 public holidays each year (if the public holidays fall on days they’d normally work). Staff who choose to work on public holidays are entitled to be paid time-and-a-half and get a day’s leave to take later. Work out if you’re paying your employees properly and doing what’s expected.

What you need to know

When a public holiday falls on a day your employee would usually work, no matter how long they’ve been working for you they’re entitled to a paid day off.

You can only require an employee to work on a public holiday if it’s written into their employment agreement. If they agree to work, you must:

  • pay them at least time and a half and
  • give them another paid day off later (a day in lieu).

Public holiday dates (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Public holiday entitlements (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Easter Sunday

If you’re a shop owner, your local council may let you open on Easter Sunday. But you can’t make your employees work that day — and they don’t have to give you a reason.

If you plan to open on Easter Sunday, you must give your staff written notice of their right to refuse to work at least four weeks in advance, but not earlier than 8 weeks before.

Restricted shop trading tool (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Local council Easter Sunday shop trading policies (external link) — Employment New Zealand

FACT: 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.


When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, employees who don’t normally work then will have the following Monday as their paid public holiday. This is known as Mondayisation.

These public holidays can be moved to Monday (or in some cases Tuesday) if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday:

  • Waitangi Day — 6 February
  • Anzac Day — 25 April
  • Christmas Day — 25 December
  • Boxing Day — 26 December
  • New Years Day — 1 January
  • Day after New Years Day — 2 January

Mondayisation (external link) – Employment New Zealand

FACT: If your employees work weekends as well as Mondays, they don’t get both days as public holidays — they just get one.

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.

Days in lieu (alternative holidays)

Employees who are entitled to a day in lieu get a full day off, no matter how many hours they worked on the public holiday.

They don’t get a day in lieu if:

  • they wouldn’t usually have worked that day
  • they only work on public holidays
  • they were on call but didn’t have to do anything, and being on call didn’t stop them doing what they wanted to do with their day.

If you can’t agree on when your employee will take a day in lieu, you can choose a day for them – but you have to give them 14 days’ notice. After 12 months, if they still haven’t taken the day off, you can agree with them to exchange the time off for an extra day’s pay.

Alternative holidays (external link) – Employment New Zealand

Transferring public holidays

Any employee can ask to transfer a public holiday to another day.
You must:

  • consider the request seriously unless you have a policy that prevents transferring public holidays
  • put any agreement to transfer a public holiday in writing.

You can:

  • decline requests to transfer public holidays — it’s good to give a reason, although you’re not legally required to.

Transferring public holidays (external link) – Employment New Zealand

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