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Employment Court Sensibly Applies Holidays Act

Employment Court Sensibly Applies Holidays Act

Wattie’s has welcomed an Employment Court decision confirming the company and its staff can transfer a public holiday when part of a production shift falls on the holiday. The holiday can effectively start at the following shift.

The company said the decision was a victory for commonsense and the practical application of the Holidays Act, and believes it will be welcomed by up to 500 nightshift staff as less disruptive.

The court’s decision defines, for the first time in 60 years, what a “work day” is in terms of public holidays.

According to the Employment Court the company and its staff can decide when a public holiday is taken, and it does not have to be from midnight to midnight.

At Easter last year an interpretation of the newly implemented Holidays Act was counter to a long-held agreement with nightshift staff at Wattie’s on the treatment of public holidays. Where a shift overlapped into a public holiday, eg a shift operated from 10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m., the company’s Employment Agreements provided for the shift to be completed at the appropriate rate, with the succeeding shift being allowed as the employee’s holiday. One consequence of this was shifts overlapping a public holiday did not attract public holiday rates of pay.

Last Easter the interpretation of the new Act was that the public holiday was for a defined 24-hour period only, midnight-to-midnight, however this had major operating and planning problems implications for the company, and was unpopular with staff.

Wattie’s says the decision will mean less disruption to night shift staff and plant operations around public holidays. It endorses an historic approach by Wattie’s and many other employers to the treatment of public holidays, and gives certainty around the observation of public holidays for shift operations under the new Holidays Act.

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