Entitlements when Public Holidays are Concerned

During one year, there are 11 observed statutory or Public Holidays in which Employees are able to have the day off work while still being paid by their Employer/s.

However, Employees can be made to work on Public holidays if it falls on a day that they usually work, and their Employment Agreement enforces this. If they must work on a public holiday, the Employee gets paid “time and a half” plus they will receive a “day in lieu” to be used on another day.

Employees may also agree to work on a public holiday even if they do not have to under the terms of their Employment Agreement.

However, if a Public Holiday falls on a weekend day, and the Employee in question does not usually work on weekends the Employee may take the following Monday as their public holiday, but if the Employee typically works on the weekend, then the public holiday will remain on the designated weekend day.

Day in Lieu

A day in lieu is an alternative day off used with time and a half when an Employee works on a statutory holiday. The Employee can take this day off on an agreed day with their Employer that is a normal working day for the Employee. This day cannot fall on a public holiday. The Employee will be granted a full day off even if they do not usually work a whole working day on the public holiday. If this date cannot be agreed upon between Employee and Employer, the Employer can give the Employee at least 14 days’ notice of the date that the day in lieu will be taken and the Employee will receive their regular pay for this day.

If a day in lieu is not taken within a 12-month period of it being available to the Employee, an agreement can be made to have it paid out to the Employee, and if the Employee’s contract finishes within this 12-month period, the will also be paid out for the day.


If at the time of the public holiday the Employee is on parental leave then the Employer would not have to pay for the public holiday as the Employee would not be working as they are on parental leave. However, if the public holiday falls on a day where the Employee is on annual leave the Employee gets paid their regular daily pay but does not have that day counted as part of their annual leave that they are taking.

If an Employee is using sick or bereavement leave when a public holiday falls and they would typically work on that day, then the Employee will receive their regular daily pay for the observation of the public holiday, but the day would not be taken from their allocation of sick or bereavement leave days. For instance, if an Employee has three sick leave days available for them to use and they fall on a public holiday on which they would typically work, they would get paid for their standard daily rate and would still have their three sick days available for them to use.

Please feel welcome to contact Lynda Mathieson at Mathieson Chartered Accountants if you are unsure or require assistance with holiday pay entitlements. Lynda is more than equipped to help navigate you through the sometimes-challenging changes in our New Zealand Employment Law.

Ph (03) 307 6455  Cell 027 5544747
Email lynda.mathieson@myca.co.nz