Hangovers, Holidays and Annual Hiatuses

16 December 2013

posted in Business | Legislation | Employment | Company Law | Holidays Act



It’s that time of year again, festive jingles are ringing throughout the malls, the pohutukawa trees are in bloom and Christmas day is just around the bend. It is therefore a pertinent time to touch on three seasonal issues that businesses should be aware of over the ensuing festive period.


It’s the season of family, friends, and excess. For many employees, the end of year party is seen as an opportunity to let their hair down and throw caution to the wind. While such occasions do provide a chance for employees and employers to relax, it is important to remember that despite such parties being held outside of office hours or offsite, the employment relationship endures and employees should be careful of saying or doing things that would not normally be tolerated. Where an employee's conduct is such that it impacts negatively on the employer's business, conflicts with the employee's duties, or undermines the employer's trust and confidence in the employee, even if it takes place outside of the place of employment, it may warrant disciplinary action. So, employees would be wise to heed to the advice of the New Zealand Alcohol Advisory Council and "Just leave [their] mates behind this time”.


Under the Holidays Act 2003, all permanent employees are entitled to four public holidays over the Christmas period:

  • Christmas Day Wednesday, 25 December 2013;
  • Boxing Day Thursday, 26 December 2013;
  • New Year's Day Wednesday, 1 January 2014; and
  • Day after New Year's Day, 2 January 2014.

Permanent employees who are on leave over the Christmas period can expect to be paid (separate from and additional to any annual holidays) for Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day, and the 2nd of January if those days are normal working days for those employees.

An employer can require employees to work on a public holiday if the:

  • public holiday falls on a day the employee would normally have worked; and
  • employee’s employment agreement states that the employee may be required to work on a public holiday.

If an employee works on a public holiday, they are entitled to at least time and half for the actual hours worked. Additionally, if the public holiday is a "normal working day" for that employee, they are also entitled to a day off in lieu.

Annual hiatuses

Under the Holidays Act 2003, employers may have a ‘closedown period’ once a year during which employees are required to take leave, provided the employer gives employee’s 14 days’ notice of any close down. A ‘closedown period’ is defined as a period during which an employer customarily closes their operations or discontinues the work of one or more employees (section 19(2)). Typically, a closedown period will occur over the Christmas period.

If a business has a closedown period that crosses over public holidays then the employee is entitled to paid public holidays (as if those days would otherwise be working days for that employee).

16 December 2013

posted in BusinessLegislationEmploymentCompany LawHolidays Act



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