Holidays and leave

Public holidays

The Holidays Act provides employees with an entitlement to 11 public holidays. Public holidays are in addition to annual holidays. This section outlines the law around these holidays.

Agreement to transfer

The employer and employee may agree in writing to transfer a public holiday to another day.

Holidays Act 2003, section 44A, B – Legislation website

Require to work

An employer can require an employee to work on a public holiday if the public holiday falls on a day the employee would normally work and the employment agreement requires the employee to work on the public holiday.


If an employee does not work on a public holiday and the day would otherwise be a working day, the employer must pay the employee the relevant or average daily pay.

If an employee works on a public holiday, the employer must pay the employee the greater of their relevant or average daily pay plus 50%, or the portion of the employee's relevant daily pay of the time actually worked on the day.

Holidays Act 2003, section 50 – Legislation website

Alternative holidays

Employees who work on public holidays which fall on days they would otherwise be working are entitled to an alternative holiday.

The timing of alternative holidays can be decided by the employer and employee.

Employees must be paid their relevant or average daily pay on an alternative holiday.

An employee can request to exchange their entitlement to an alternative holiday for a payment, if 12 months has passed since the entitlement to the alternative holiday arose.

Holidays Act 2003, section 56-61 – Legislation website

See also:

Public holidays – Employment New Zealand

Employment agreements – Ministry of Education

Updated: June 2017

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