You will likely be taking annual leave, and there are a series of public holidays over the festive season.

If you are a full time employee on leave and you normally work these days, you can expect to be paid for Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day, and the 2nd of January.  If you are normally expected to work these days and you do, you will be paid time and a half for the hours worked and receive a day in lieu for each public holiday you work (irrespective of the number of hours worked that day, so you get a full day off).

In some cases, if you are on call, you can expect to be paid whether you work or not.  There are specific laws for employees on call on a public holiday.

If a Public Holiday falls during annual leave it is taken as a Public Holiday not an annual leave day.

Annual leave must be paid before an employee takes the leave unless the employer and employee agree that the normal pay cycle will continue.

If you fall sick, suffer a bereavement or need to take family violence leave then if you are entitled to such leave you take that instead of those days being annual leave.

Pay Days

Each employer deals with pay in its own way – the manner of which should be recorded in your employment agreement.  If the normal pay cycle means that a pay day would fall on a public holiday, most employers will make that payment a day earlier or a day later.  However an employer manages pay cycles over this period, it is important that you know what to expect.  There is nothing worse than being caught out by a couple of days when you find that your pay hasn’t gone through as expected! Ask your employer if they have arranged to pay the day before the Public Holiday.

Christmas Parties

End of year staff parties are often seen as a celebration of a year’s work and an opportunity to let your hair down and kick your feet up.

It is important however, to remember that even though staff parties often aren’t during office hours or at the office, the employee-employer relationship still exists.  This means that, although there may be some leniency in regards to employee behaviour, staff parties shouldn’t be treated as an opportunity to say or do things to people you normally wouldn’t expect to get away with.

Have a very Merry Christmas – from the Employment Team at Rainey Collins.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer
Wellington, New Zealand

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