With Easter, ANZAC Day and Queen’s Birthday around the corner, now is the time to make sure you’re paying employees properly for public holidays and providing the correct entitlements.

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).

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.
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.
Public holidays:

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

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

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.


  • 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 close down period, you must pay employees for those that fall on days they’d usually work — including weekend public holidays moved to Monday or Tuesday.