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Pilots case shows Holidays Act ‘not up to the job’

Media release
15 November 2007

Pilots case shows Holidays Act ‘not up to the job’

The case NZ Airline Pilots Association v Air NZ is an indictment of the Holidays Act, says Business NZ.

The case centres on a long-standing employment agreement between Air NZ and its pilots which includes an overall payment to ensure there are always pilots on duty on public holidays.

Following the passage of the new Holidays Act, the pilots said they should also get time and a half when they work on public holidays.

Last year the Court of Appeal found in favour of Air NZ, saying time and a half did not have to be paid as the public holidays had been ‘redefined’ and compensated for in the employment agreement.

But now the Supreme Court has ruled that the Holidays Act gives public holidays a special status, and does allow not them to be ‘redefined’.

This means that the employment agreement between Air NZ and the pilots does not comply with the Holidays Act and will need to be sent back to the Employment Court for a ruling.

Mr O’Reilly said the wider issue was whether employers and employees could make sensible arrangements concerning holidays that suited them both.

“Employers want the flexibility to meet business needs and employees want to be compensated for their part in achieving that. Employees also want the flexibility to choose the holiday arrangements they want. The Holidays Act should make it straightforward and simple for them to come to agreements that suit them both.

“Clearly the Holidays Act is not up to the job. This case has now been through multiple courts with two split decisions and another court ruling to come and with the latest ruling by the Supreme Court at 49 pages long. It shows how defective the Holidays Act is.”


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