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First test of public holiday transfer law

Media release: National Distribution Union (NDU)
Sunday April 24, 2011

First test of employer willingness on public holiday transfer law

A critical first test over new employment laws is shaping up, as a union lays down a challenge to over 1,000 employers to use new public holiday transfer provisions to benefit workers.

On April 1, last year’s law change, allowing the transfer of New Zealand’s 11 public holidays to another day, came into effect.

The National Distribution Union has written to the 1,600 employers of its 21,500 members requesting the transfer of the Easter Monday holiday to another day later in the year to be agreed to between the worker and the company.

“This year, Easter Monday and Anzac Day fall on the same day, depriving many workers of a second Public Holiday in 2011, with Waitangi Day falling on a Sunday earlier this year,” NDU General Secretary Robert Reid said.

“For the third year in a row, many workers have missed out on 11 Public Holidays. In 2009 Anzac Day was on a Saturday, and last year both Anzac and Waitangi Days fell on the weekend.”

Australia had addressed the problem, Robert Reid said. Australian workers will get this Tuesday off as a special public holiday, in recognition of the double up.

“The NDU opposed the recent employment law changes regarding transfer of public holidays. In our view, the safeguards to ensure there is no pressure on workers to transfer public holidays to days that suit employer needs, do not provide adequate protection to workers.”

“But the laws were passed, and came into effect on 1 April this year. Employers now have an opportunity to use this new law to proactively support workers’ time off with their families.”

“Now, we will really be able to see if the law has been designed to benefit workers,” Robert Reid said.

Last year several changes to the Employment Relations Act and Holidays Act were passed by Parliament. Most of the changes came into effect on April 1 this year. Provision to transfer a public holiday was added to the Holidays Act, and the relevant section is here: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2003/0129/latest/DLM3635933.html#DLM3635933. (More information about the other law changes is here: http://fairness.org.nz)

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