Public Holiday Entitlement

Public holiday entitlement for employees is governed by the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

Full-time employees have an immediate entitlement to benefit for public holidays, with part-time employees benefiting if they have worked a total of 40 hours in the previous 5 weeks before the public holiday, with an employer being able to determine which of the following options apply:

  • a paid day off on the day of the public holiday;
  • a paid day off within a month of the public holiday;
  • an additional day of annual leave; or
  • an additional day’s pay.

An individual’s work pattern will determine how they benefit from the public holiday and it may be different depending on when the public holiday falls as follows:

  • If the business is closed on the public holiday and an employee would normally be due to work then they get their normal day’s pay and a day off.
  • If the business is open and an employee works, as well as normal payment for the day, they are entitled to either paid time off or an additional day’s pay.
  • If an employee is not normally rostered to work on the day the public holiday falls, they are entitled to an extra payment of one-fifth of their normal weekly wage.

Where the public holiday falls on a day which is not a normal working day for a business, e.g. businesses that don’t work weekends and the public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, as is happening this year, employees are still entitled to benefit with either a paid day off or an extra day’s pay as per the options above. However, there is no automatic entitlement to the public holiday being transferred as a paid day off on the next working day after the public holiday.

Finally, if an employee ceases to be employed during the week ending on the day before a public holiday, having worked during the 4 weeks preceding that week, they are entitled to receive pay for the public holiday, or if an employee is on temporary lay-off, they are entitled to benefit for the public holidays that fall within the first thirteen weeks of lay-off.