A sporting lens on how to calculate and pay public holiday entitlements

5 May 2022
BSS GS Legal Speak

With the recent public holidays and New Zealand celebrating Matariki for the first time in June, now is a good time for employers to brush up on their obligations to employees in relation to public holidays. In the sports and recreation sector, it’s normal for non-standard days and hours to be worked, or work patterns to be constantly changing, and so this article covers how to calculate and pay public holiday entitlements.

On Friday 24 June 2022 New Zealand celebrates Matariki as a new public holiday. With that news it is a good time to remind ourselves of some of the complexities associated with public holidays for employers calculating pay. This is especially so in the sports and recreation sector, where you may have employees working non-standard days and hours.

Do my employees have a public holiday entitlement?

Employees are entitled to payment for a public holiday if the holiday would fall on a day that would otherwise be a working day for the employee. For most employees this is easy to determine as it will be recorded in their employment agreement. Difficulty can arise where the employees work pattern constantly changes (like it might with competition schedules or rearrangements due to Covid interruptions).

Where the employment agreement does not record an employees’ working hours and there is no consistent work pattern then you should consider other relevant factors, including:

  • Whether the employee works for your organisation only when work is available;
  • Any rosters or other systems of work; and
  • Any reasonable expectations that your employee would work on the day in question.

For example, if the employee’s work pattern is tied to school terms (e.g. a coach or sports team manager) then there is no expectation that Christmas would be a working day.

What payment are my employees entitled to for the public holiday?

As with the entitlement exercise, the payment exercise is straightforward when the employee’s hours are recorded in an employment agreement or where there is a roster for the employees. If it is ordinarily a working day, then either the employee does not work on that day and is paid their relevant daily pay, or where the employee does work then they are entitled to be paid time and half and are provided with an alternative holiday.

Where the hours of work are not clear then each public holiday will need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. If they do not ordinarily work on that day, but have been asked to, then the employee will be paid time and a half but not receive an alternative holiday.

As always, the best way to avoid issues with calculation or payment is to have items agreed in writing from the outset. If the information in this article has raised some questions for you or you would like any employment advice, please contact Gibson Sheat and we would be happy to help.