By: Amanda Douglas, Anthony Drake
Many employers and employees use the festive season to take planned holidays, manage leave balances, and in some cases close the office, factory or shop.   

It is important to remember that payment for holidays and leave must be calculated each time the employee goes on holiday or leave as the rate of payment may change from pay period to pay period. Some employment agreements have a salary rate for unspecified hours or patterns of work, or set wage rates for public holidays.  Employment agreements can also include special rates for particular days worked.

This festive season public holidays fall on Wednesday 25 December, Thursday 26 December 2019, Wednesday 1 January and Thursday 2 January 2020.  They are observed on those days unless the employer and employee agree to transfer those days to another day (in compliance with the Holidays Act 2003).

Employees get a paid day off on a public holiday if it is an otherwise working day for them.  The day off is paid at the employee’s relevant daily pay or average daily pay depending on the terms of the employee’s employment.  Employers should also be mindful of whether the employee receives overtime or commission payments and they must include those payments in holiday pay calculations. If the employee works on a public holiday, they get paid at least time and a half and get an alternative day off.  

Some employers use the Christmas period to apply a mandatory closedown and require that the office, factory or shop be closed for a specified period.  Employees can be required to cease work during the closedown period.  An employee who is entitled to annual holidays at the commencement of a closedown period can be required to take annual holidays during the closedown.  If an employee does not have any entitlement to annual holidays then the employer must pay the employee 8% of the employee’s gross earnings since the commencement of the employee’s employment less any annual holiday taken in advance or already paid out (note the technical requirements).

On behalf of your Wynn Williams employment team, Amanda and Anthony wish you a happy holiday!
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