Skip to main content

Otherwise working day

To work out an employee’s rights to public holidays, alternative holidays, sick leave and bereavement leave, you need to know whether the employee would have otherwise worked that day.

In most cases it’s easy to work out whether or not an employee would have normally worked on the day in question (known as an otherwise working day) because the working pattern or roster is constant and the employer and employee can agree about whether the employee would otherwise have worked that day.

Using a roster system

If an employer uses a roster system, then this roster may be used to work out whether the day is an otherwise working day. If it’s unclear, the things that the employee and employer need to think about include:

  • what the employment agreement says
  • the employee's usual work patterns
  • any other relevant factors such as:
    • if the employee works for the employer only when work is available
    • the employer's rosters or other similar systems
    • the reasonable expectations of the employer and employee as to whether the employee would have worked on that day
  • if the employee would normally have worked if it wasn’t a holiday (public or alternative) or if the employee was on leave (sick or bereavement)
  • if the day falls during a closedown period, the above factors need to be taken into account as if the closedown period weren’t in effect.

An employer can’t take an employee off the roster on a public holiday, when it’s a day that they would otherwise have worked on, so that they don’t have to give the employee public holiday entitlements. Not recognising an employee’s holiday entitlements is against the law.

Scenario

Erina alternates her shifts with Ross. Erina’s roster requires three 10-hour days on Monday to Wednesday one week (Week 1) and the same hours on Thursday to Saturday the following week (Week 2). If Week 1 coincides with the week in which Good Friday falls, Erina will not get paid for Good Friday or Easter Monday (that will fall in Week 2) because she would not have been scheduled to work on that Friday or Monday.

Ross will be paid for both Good Friday and Easter Monday as the roster pattern would have scheduled him to work these days if they weren’t public holidays (these are otherwise working days for him).

Otherwise working day calculator

When an employee does not have a clear work pattern or there’s a lot of variation in work times, it may be harder to decide if a day is an otherwise working day. You can use the Otherwise working day calculator to work it out. It will take about 15 minutes to work through all the steps of the Otherwise working day calculator.

If you’re still not sure you can contact us.

Public holidays

For public holiday rights, you need to work out:

  • which day the public holiday will be observed for each employee, and if it’s a public holiday that might be mondayised
  • whether or not the day is an otherwise working day for the employee
  • whether or not the employee will be working on the day.

For example, if an employee works on a public holiday they are paid at least time and a half for the hours they work and if they would have normally worked on that day (the day is an otherwise working day) they also get another paid day off (an alternative holiday).

Find out more about time and a half and penal rates.

If the public holiday is on a day that the employee would normally work

If the employee doesn’t work on the holiday, and they would have otherwise worked on the day if it wasn’t a public holiday, they get paid not less than their relevant daily pay or average daily pay for the day off as if they had worked as normal on the day. For most employees working a regular pattern of hours, the pay cycle continues unchanged. They could get more pay if that is in their employment agreement.

Read more about relevant daily pay or average daily pay.

If the public holiday is on a day that the employee would normally work

If the employee works on the public holiday and they would have normally worked on it, the employee gets:

  • paid at least one and a half times their relevant daily pay or average daily pay (as time and a half) for the time they actually work on the public holiday (they can get more than time and a half if that is in their employment agreement), and
  • an alternative holiday.

For example, Pete works on an ANZAC Day that falls on a Sunday (Sunday is a normal working day for Pete). Pete earns $20 an hour and his employment agreement gives him double-time rates for working on a Sunday.

Under his employment agreement Pete would get 2 x $20 = $40 an hour.

Under the Holidays Act 2003 the minimum Pete would get is $20 x 1.5 = $30 an hour.

Pete gets more under his employment agreement so he would be paid $40 an hour (he would also get an alternative holiday because he would have normally worked on Sunday).

If an employee works only on public holidays (eg an employee is only employed to work at the racetrack for the Waitangi Day meeting) they don’t get an alternative holiday, but must still be paid at least time and a half for the hours they work on a public holiday.

If the public holiday isn’t on a day that the employee would normally work

If the employee works on the holiday, the employee:

  • gets paid at least one and a half times their relevant daily pay or average daily pay (time and a half) for the time they actually work on the public holiday (they can get more than time and a half if that is in their employment agreement)
  • doesn’t get an alternative holiday.

For example, Jane usually only works on Saturday and Sunday, but she agrees to work on Labour Day this year even though she would not otherwise work on that day. She is paid $25 an hour.

Her employment agreement says she will be paid $35 an hour and get an alternative holiday if she works on a public holiday.

Under the Holidays Act 2003, the minimum Jane would get paid for working a public holiday is $25 x 1.5 = $37.50 per hour. Because this is more than stated in her employment agreement she will get $37.50 an hour. If her employer doesn’t pay this, she should discuss it with them.

Even though Jane doesn’t qualify for an alternative holiday under the Holidays Act 2003 (because she would not normally work on Monday) she gets an alternative holiday because it is stated in her employment agreement.

Read more about relevant daily pay and average daily pay.

Easter Sunday is not a public holiday under the Holidays Act 2003. However, there are restrictions on certain types of shops opening on that day (as stated in the Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal Act 1990).

View the restricted shop trading days.

If an employee works on Easter Sunday, they would generally be paid their ordinary rate of pay for a Sunday unless they have agreed to a different rate with their employer.

If an employee doesn’t work on Easter Sunday:

  • as their workplace is closed because of shop trading hours restrictions, and
  • Sunday is a normal day of work (otherwise working day) for them, then
  • what they get paid for that day would depend on the terms and conditions of their employment agreement.

Usually, if an employee is able to work on a day that is a contracted day of work for them, then the employer has to provide them with work for that day. If the employer doesn’t provide the employee with work, they might have to pay the employee what they would have been paid if they had worked that particular day (unless the employment agreement says otherwise).

If an employee’s employment agreement doesn’t require them to work on public holidays, their employer should make sure the employee knows that they don’t have to work on the holiday.

Still haven't found what you're looking for?