Minister lays down the law for employers on Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day

Can you insist your employees come into work – or should you shut up shop?

Minister lays down the law for employers on Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day

The New Zealand government passed a bill earlier this month, marking today as Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day. In its passing, workplace relations and safety minister Michael Wood says employers should get to grips with the new rules for today.

"There will be no additional shop trading restrictions on Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day public holiday and the normal rules apply for employees who work on a public holiday," he says. "I encourage employers to familiarise themselves with these ahead of the day.”

According to Employment NZ, employers should observe normal Public Holiday requirements under the Holidays Act, such as:

  • All employees who work on September 26 must be paid time and a half
  • If September 26 is an otherwise working day for an employee, they will be entitled to a paid day off work
  • If September 26 is an otherwise working day and the employee works, they are entitled to be paid time and a half and receive an alternative holiday

Read more: Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day: Arden reveals one-off national holiday

"An otherwise working day is a day that an employee would have been working had the day not been a public holiday," explained Employment New Zealand.

According to the government's reminders, an employer can only require an employee to work today if their employment contract says so.

"Otherwise, employers can ask employees to work on 26 September but they do not have to agree," read the government announcement.

According to Wood, the decision to hold the one-off public holiday is also in line with similar holidays in the United Kingdom and Australia.

"This public holiday will allow New Zealanders to mark her life and passing and reflect on her legacy," says the minister. "We anticipate many people will want the opportunity to pay their respects and this public holiday offers communities across the country the ability to come together and pay tribute at their own local events also."

Read more: Keep Calm and Carry On: Leadership lessons from Queen Elizabeth II

In addition to the one-off holiday, the country's State Memorial Service at the Wellington Cathedral will also be held today.  

"This will be an historic day for Aotearoa New Zealand, to both mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and to celebrate her life."

Queen Elizabeth II made 10 visits to New Zealand in the past, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, including the "notable first tour" over the summer of 1953-54.

"She was here to celebrate with us at events such as the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games and the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games. She also mourned with us when we were hit by terrible tragedies such as the Tangiwai rail disaster and the February 2011 earthquake.”

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