The Internal Affairs ministry’s Labour and Consumer Division says that under the Employment Relations Act 2012, all employees are entitled to public holiday leave and pay for December 25 and 26, 2018 and January 1 and 2, 2019.
Should the place of employment close on these days, public holiday pay at normal rates applies.
If an employee works on any or all of these dates, they should be paid at double rate or be given an annual leave day, or time in lieu.
Discussions on which option is agreeable to both the employee and employer should be made and decided, before working on these dates.
If an employee take annual leave during these dates, this does not affect their annual leave days. For example, if an employee decides to take annual leave during the Christmas week, Monday to Friday, annual leave entitlements should only be deducted for Monday, Thursday and Friday. Tuesday and Wednesday are public holiday leave days, paid at normal rate
It is also important to know that employees are entitled to apply for their annual leave in addition to public holiday leave.
Fulltime employees are entitled to 10 days annual leave annually. Part timers have a number of accrued leave days proportional to their work hours. Employers then must either approve the leave or reject it, providing they have a fair and reasonable explanation. Workers should follow their company’s in-house policies on leaves application and entitlements.
In some businesses, employers like to shut down for the festive period, usually for two weeks from Christmas to New Year. If this is a management decision, it is strongly recommended that employees be made aware of this well before and be given the opportunity to discuss how they are able to arrange their leave around this shutdown period.
The decision should already be in either the staff manual or made part of in-house policy, or even in the contractual agreement.
If a company imposes a compulsory shut-down during the festive season, it is only fair that the employees will have been warned in advance in order to be able to manage their leave accordingly. It would be unfair to impose annual leave for this shutdown period. Workers have the right to use their annual leave entitlements throughout the year according to their personal needs.
ERA 2012 requires that employers treat workers in a fair and decent manner and this includes fair negotiation around leave management. For example, leave should not be imposed on employees to suit operational and management needs.
Moreover, planning around leave should be a continuous exercise throughout the year and as always, communication between employers and employees is key.