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Application Of Entitlements Under The Holidays Act

28 October 1999


A recent survey of employer attitudes and practices regarding the Holidays Act 1981, conducted for the law firm Simpson Grierson, has highlighted several areas where there is some confusion over the application of the statutory entitlements provided by the Act.

“The report shows that many employers are incorrectly applying the Act, and therefore potentially depriving employees of their entitlements to paid holidays and leave” said Department of Labour Acting Chief Labour Inspector, Joanne Silberstein.

“The Labour Inspectorate exists to inform people about and enforce the provisions of the statutory minimum code of employment, including the Holidays Act. If any member of the public has any questions about what their rights and obligations under the Act are, or believe that they are not receiving their due entitlements at law, then they should call the Inspectorate’s Industrial Relations Info-Line, toll free on 0800 800 863, for free information and advice. The Inspectorate will take the appropriate action over any complaints made to it about these matters”, she said.

“One issue specifically raised by the report that requires clarification is that of the “Mondayisation” of Christmas and New Year holidays,” said Ms Silberstein.

“The Holidays Act provides for all employees to receive paid days off on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and the 2nd of January, if these are days they would otherwise have worked. Employees may agree to work on these four public holidays, in return for an alternative day off in lieu.”

At the end of 1999/start of 2000, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day both fall on Saturdays, while Boxing Day and the second Day of January fall on Sundays. In these circumstances, the Holidays Act transfers the observance of these days to the following Monday and Tuesday.

This means that, for employment purposes, the Christmas/New Year holidays are to be observed on:

 Monday 27 December – Christmas Day
 Tuesday 28 December – Boxing Day
 Monday 3 January – New Year’s Day
 Tuesday 4 January – second day of January.”

Whilst the Act provides for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to be observed on Monday and/or Tuesday if they fall on a weekend, it also allows employees and employers to agree to observe these holidays on other days (including the days they fall). However, this agreement must be specifically stated in their employment contract.

Employees must be paid at least their ordinary rate of pay for the Christmas holidays, or on their alternative days off in lieu, but their employment contracts may include higher pay rates for working on these days.

“These rules can cause some confusion, so I urge all employees and employers who are unsure about how the holidays entitlements affect them to seek advice,” said Ms Silberstein.

Media enquiries: Joanne Silberstein (04) 915-4535
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