In a case an employee checked his payslip he found that his pay was less than he expected.  It transpired that he had only been paid for four hours’ work on a public holiday instead of the seven he would usually have worked and been paid for.  His contract stated he would work four hours, but the employee had not worked a four hour roster for some time. 

The Holidays Act states that an employee should be paid as if she or he had worked as normal on the day.  For employees who work a regular pattern of hours, the pay cycle continues unchanged. 

From 1 April 2011, new provisions state that if it is not possible or practicable to determine what an employee would have been paid on that day, by the relevant daily pay formula, the employee should be paid their “average daily pay”.  This is calculated by taking the employees gross earnings for the last 52 weeks, and dividing it by the number of whole or part days where the employee earned those gross earnings (including any day the employee was on paid leave).

Employees, whether casual, part time or full time are entitled to payment for public holidays, provided the public holiday falls on a day that the employee would work if it were not a public holiday.  

Although it can be negotiated between employer and employee whether or not an employee will work on a public holiday, that employee must have a day off in lieu and this part cannot be contracted out of.  The employee must also be paid a minimum of time and a half for any time worked on a public holiday.

The three main questions you need to have answers to in determining payment are:

  1. But for the day being a public holiday, would the employee have worked that day?
  2. What would the employee normally have been paid for that day?
  3. Did the employee actually work on the public holiday? (This determines whether time and a half as well as a day in lieu are owed to the employee.)

Whether you are an employee or an employer and you would like to discuss this further, or enquire about any aspect of employment, please call Alan Knowsley for a relaxed and confidential initial chat.