As an employer you need to know your holiday legal employment rights and obligations – it’s especially important as we enter the Christmas and New Year season.
Employment New Zealand has five top employment tips to help you prepare and avoid problems later. These tips are based on minimum rights. Employers and employees can agree to terms above these minimums.
1. A business may close down over the holiday period
Businesses can have an ‘annual closedown’ for their whole business or a part of it. They must give at least 14 days’ notice. Best practice would be to do this in writing.
If a business closes down over the holiday period, employees are required to use their existing annual holidays to cover the closedown period.
If an employee is not yet entitled to annual holidays (been employed for less than 12 months) the employer must pay the employee 8% of gross earnings up until the closedown, the employer and employee may also agree to annual holidays being taken in advance.
For more information visit Annual closedowns.
2. In most circumstances employees don’t have to agree to work on a public holiday
An employer can only make an employee work on a public holiday if:
the public holiday falls on a day the employee would otherwise have worked; and
the requirement to work on the public holiday is noted in their employment agreement.
Otherwise, an employee does not have to agree to work during a public holiday.
For more information visit Public holidays.
3. Entitlements for public holidays
Employees must be paid time and a half for all the hours worked on a public holiday. In addition, if the public holiday falls on a day an employee would normally work, then the employee is entitled to a paid day off at another time (called an alternative holiday).
If an employee does not work on a public holiday and the holiday falls on a day that the employee would normally work then the employer should pay the employee for that day. Some public holidays are Mondayised (or Tuesdayised) if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday and those days are not days that an employee would normally work.
4. Employees can ask to cash-up some of their annual holidays
Employees can request to cash up to one week of their four weeks’ annual holidays in any entitlement year, providing the employer agrees. The employee must ask in writing and have completed 12 months employment.
If an employer declines, they must do this in writing, but they don’t have to give a reason.
For more information visit Cashing-up annual holidays .
5. Cancelling approved annual holidays is a matter of negotiation
An employer cannot cancel an employee’s approved annual holidays unless they agree to it. An employee may have already arranged their holiday, for example, paid for accommodation, or organised a holiday with friends or family.
If an employer would like an employee to cancel their leave, they should approach the employee in good faith and make sure that there are no consequences if the employee declines to cancel their leave.
For more information visit Taking annual holidays .
If you have any workplace issues it is best to sort them early. Check out your rights and responsibilities at: www.employment.govt.nz. You can also access the Early Resolution Service and send enquiries/complaints via the online form. The team at Pacific Business Trust
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