Can an employer and employee agree to celebrate a public holiday on a different day?
Yes. From 1 April 2011 an employer and employee may agree that an entire public holiday is to be observed on another calendar day or 24-hour period which would be otherwise a working day for the employee. This agreement needs to be in writing. It can be in the employment agreement but does not have to be.
A request can be made by either the employer or employee. It must be considered in good faith by the other party and any agreement must meet the minimum set out in the legislation. There are:
- any public holiday being transferred must be identified and otherwise be a working day for the employee
- The day it being transferred to must be identified or identifiable; otherwise be a working day for the employee and not another public holiday
- the purpose of the transfer cannot be to avoid paying the employee time and a half for working on a public holiday or providing them with an alternative holiday (although this may be the effect of the transfer).
When the public holiday is transferred, the day it is moved to becomes the public holiday for the employee. If the employee then works on that alternative day, they are entitled to be paid time and a half for the hours worked and to receive a whole day's alternative holiday.
The first public holiday to which this may apply is Good Friday , 22 April 2011.
An employer may have a policy stating that they will not consider requests to transfer public holidays. Click here to find out more
The Holidays Act 2003 also allows employees working shifts that start and end on different days to transfer the public holiday, by agreement with their employer, so that the public holiday covers one whole shift. Click here to find out more
If an employee works on the public holiday they are entitled to at least time and a half for the hours worked on the public holiday. If the public holiday the employee works on falls on a day that the employee would otherwise have worked even if it was not a public holiday, they are also entitled to an alternative holiday (a day off on pay at another time) regardless of how many hours they worked on the public holiday.
An employer can only require an employee to work on a public holiday if there is such a requirement in the employee's employment agreement, and the public holiday falls on a day that is otherwise a working day. In all other circumstances, the employer would require the employee's agreement that the employee will work on a public holiday.
Use our Holidays and Leave Tool to work out entitlements for public holidays, and sickness and bereavement leave.
Date Modified: Thursday, 31 March 2011
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and should not be used as a substitute for legislation or legal advice.State sector employers
and employees may be affected by some differences in the laws that apply to them (e.g. State
Sector Act 1988).The Department of Labour takes no responsibility for the results of any actions taken
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