Public holidays in NZ: The holidays you get this year

Public holidays in NZ: The holidays you get this year

Public holidays in NZ: The holidays you get this year
  1. How many public holidays does NZ have?
  2. List of 2023 National Public Holidays
  3. What are the minimum employee rights for public holidays?
  4. What are regional anniversary days?
  5. Can an employee be forced to work on a public holiday?
  6. Do casual workers get paid for holidays in NZ?
  7. What happens when a holiday falls on a weekend?
  8. Transferring a public holiday by agreement
  9. What happens when a public holiday falls within an employee’s leave period?
  10. What if an employee is receiving ACC weekly compensation?
  11. What are “restricted shop trading days”?

Public holidays are an essential part of every society and culture, and New Zealand is no exception. These holidays are observed nationwide and provide an opportunity for people to commemorate significant events, pay tribute to their cultural heritage, or simply take a break from their routine work schedule. Holidays provide employees time off from work to relax, spend time with loved ones, and have fun. 

As an HR professional, it is important to ensure that employees are aware of their entitlements and that policies and procedures are in place to manage these public holidays. It is essential that business operations are not adversely affected by these days off, and that appropriate staffing levels are maintained. Keeping all these in check is key to ensuring a happy, motivated, and efficient workforce. 

In this guide, HRD looks at the NZ public holidays for 2023 and all you need to know about them – whether you are an HR professional or an employee.  

How many public holidays does NZ have? 

In New Zealand, there are 11 public holidays each year, with some of them being based on historical events and cultural traditions, such as Waitangi Day, ANZAC Day, and Matariki. Employers are required to recognise these 11 public holidays legally covered in the Holidays Act 2003

List of 2023 National Public Holidays 

Here is a list of the 11 public holidays celebrated nationwide in New Zealand:  

2023 national public holidays in NZ 

What are the minimum employee rights for public holidays? 

Employees are entitled to 12 public holidays per year. Apart from the 11 public holidays celebrated across the country, there is an additional holiday being the Anniversary Day of the province where the employee is based. Public holidays are paid days off if it is an otherwise working day for an employee. 

More information on “Otherwise working day” 

An otherwise working day is defined as a day when an employee would have worked had it not been a public holiday, sick leave, bereavement leave, annual holiday, or alternative holiday for that employee. It is crucial to determine whether a day constitutes an otherwise working day for an employee for several reasons:   

  • An employee is entitled to a paid day off on a public holiday or an alternative holiday only on days that would have been otherwise working days for them. 
  • If an employee works on a public holiday that is an otherwise working day for them, they are entitled to an alternative holiday, unless they are employed to work only on public holidays. 

However, if an employee is taking a previously agreed upon time off without pay when they would typically be required to work, the day would not be classified as an otherwise working day. 

There are some special cases:  

  • Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, and 2 January holiday: If the employee would have normally worked on Saturday or Sunday, the public holiday is observed on the actual day. If the employee would not normally have worked on a weekend, then the public holiday is observed on the following Monday, or in some cases, Tuesday.  

  • Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day: If the employee would not normally have worked on a weekend, the public holidays for Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day are “mondayised” or moved to the following Monday if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday. (Refer to ‘More information on “Mondayisation”’) 

When an employer enters into an employment agreement with an employee, they are required to inform the employee about their entitlements under the Holidays Act 2003, and that they can obtain further information about their entitlements from unions or Employment New Zealand. The simplest way for an employer to demonstrate that they have met this requirement is by including this information in the employment agreement. 

What are regional anniversary days? 

Anniversary days are public holidays that apply to specific regions in New Zealand. These holidays are usually observed on the Monday closest to the official date in the respective province, but this may vary. Employees based in these regions are entitled to the same entitlements as a public holiday. 

Anniversary days are designated by regional or city councils or are based on local customs and practices. Though there are official dates for each Anniversary Day, it is important for employers to be cautious when calculating public holiday pay rates for employees, as they should only recognize the date on which the anniversary is observed. 


List of 2023 Regional anniversary days  

Here is a list of the Anniversary days in New Zealand for 2023:  

2023 regional anniversary days in NZ 

Can an employee be forced to work on a public holiday? 

Employers can require their employees to work on a public holiday only under certain conditions: 

  • The public holiday must fall on a day when the employee would normally be working anyway, and  
  • Their employment agreement must stipulate that they must work on the public holiday. 

If an employer wants an employee to be available to work on a public holiday that falls outside of their normal working hours, they must include an availability clause in the employee's employment agreement. Additionally, the employer must provide reasonable compensation for the employee's availability, unless it has been agreed that such compensation is already included in the employee's salary. 

Moreover, the employer must have legitimate reasons based on reasonable grounds for including an availability provision and for requiring the employee to be available to work on the public holiday. In all other cases, an employee may work on a public holiday only if they agree to do so. 

Payment for working on a public holiday 

If an employee works on a public holiday, they must be compensated for their hours worked at a rate of no less than one and a half times their regular pay rate. Furthermore, if the public holiday would have been a regular working day for the employee, they are entitled to a paid alternative holiday, unless their employment agreement specifies that they only work on public holidays. 

Regardless of the type of employment — whether full-time, part-time, fixed term, or casual — an employee is entitled to any benefits that come from working on public holidays. 

What happens when a holiday falls on a weekend?  

When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the employee’s public holiday might be moved to the following Monday, or in some cases, Tuesday.  

More information on “Mondayisation”  

Mondayisation refers to the practice of moving an employee's public holiday from a Saturday or Sunday to the following Monday, or sometimes Tuesday. This only occurs if the employee would not normally work on the actual calendar date of the holiday. 

  • If an employee typically works on the day of the public holiday's calendar date, then there is no mondayisation for them and their public holiday entitlements apply to the calendar date. 

  • If an employee would usually work on both the calendar date of the public holiday and the possible mondayisation date, their public holiday falls on the calendar date. In such cases, employees are not entitled to two public holidays. 

It is usually not too difficult to figure out whether an employee would normally have worked on a particular day. This is because the employee’s work schedule is consistent, and both the employer and employee can agree on whether the employee would have worked on that day.  

Transferring a public holiday by agreement 

It is possible for an employer and employee to come to an agreement to observe a public holiday on a different day than the actual holiday


If an employer and employee agree to observe a public holiday on a different day, they must put the agreement in writing. This may be done for business reasons or to accommodate the employee's needs. Requests to transfer can be made by the employer or the employee. The request must be: 

  • Considered in good faith by both parties, and  
  • Any agreement made must meet the minimum requirements set out by the law.  

If a public holiday is transferred to a day that an employee has already scheduled for annual leave, the day must be treated as a public holiday and not counted as a day of annual leave. Additionally, employers may have a policy stating that they do not consider requests to transfer public holidays and must consult with employees when developing such a policy to fulfill their good faith obligations. 

What happens when a public holiday falls within an employee’s leave period? 

In situations where a public holiday coincides with an employee's leave period or a business close-down period, special provisions apply regarding public holiday entitlements. Here is what you need to know. 

Annual leave 

If an employee happens to be on annual leave during a public holiday, they are entitled to a paid public holiday if they would have normally been scheduled to work on that day. The employee also does not lose an annual leave day for that day.  

Parental leave 

If an employee is on parental leave and a public holiday happens to fall within the duration of that leave, the employer is not required to pay for that public holiday. This is because the employee would not normally have been scheduled to work on that day. 

However, if the employee is receiving a parental leave payment over a week that includes a public holiday, the payment amount and the number of weeks they receive a payment for are not affected by the holiday.  

Sickness/Injury/Bereavement/Family violence leave 

If an employee would have worked on a public holiday but is unable to due to sickness, family violence (if entitled to family violence leave), or bereavement, the day is considered a paid unworked public holiday. 

In the event that the day would have been an otherwise working day: 

  • The employee is entitled to their relevant daily pay or average daily pay but is not entitled to time and a half or an alternative holiday. 
  • Sick or family violence leave entitlements are not affected by the public holiday, and the employee's balances are not reduced. 
  • The public holiday does not affect the employee's entitlement to take bereavement leave, and they can still take the full number of days they are entitled to. 

Sickness leave? That’s a sad topic. Here’s more on what Matariki day is all about: 


What if an employee is receiving ACC weekly compensation? 

ACC weekly compensation payments cover the time an employee is away from work due to an injury and are calculated weekly.  

When an employee is on ACC, their entitlement to public holiday pay depends on whether the day is an 'otherwise working day.' Usually, an employer does not need to pay an employee for a public holiday if it falls during their ACC period, as the employee is not expected to be at work. However, there may be exceptions, so it is important to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. 

If an employee receives public holiday pay while they are getting their ACC weekly compensation, it could affect their payment for that week. Therefore, employees must notify ACC of any income received during this time. Employers paying weekly compensation on behalf of ACC should also inform ACC of any additional income paid to the employee, as this could impact the calculation of their employee’s weekly compensation.  

Unpaid leave 

If a public holiday falls during a period of planned unpaid leave for an employee, they will not typically receive payment for the public holiday since it would not be considered an otherwise working day for them. 

During a business close-down period 

If a business has a scheduled close-down period that coincides with a public holiday, such as during the Christmas and New Year period, employees are entitled to be paid for the public holiday if they would have otherwise worked on that day if the closedown were not in effect.  

What are “restricted shop trading days”? 

There are three and a half days each year when almost all shops are required to close. Some shops may be allowed to open under certain conditions, or they may have an area exemption or local policy for Easter Sunday. 

The restricted trading days are:  

  • Christmas Day 
  • Good Friday  
  • ANZAC Day, until 1:00 PM on the observed day  
  • Easter Sunday 

How do restricted trading days affect employees? 

  • Easter Sunday: Easter Sunday is not a public holiday. Shop employees are entitled to decline work on Easter Sunday, regardless of whether their area has local policies or exemptions. When employers want a shop employee to work on Easter Sunday or if shop employees do not want to work on Easter Sunday, both parties have certain obligations and procedures to follow. 

  • Mondayisation: When a public holiday is mondayised for an employee, the shop trading restrictions remain unchanged. This means that shops are not required to close twice, and the trading restriction is not mondayised. 

Read more about New Zealand’s unique Matariki Day.

Got any questions regarding public holidays in NZ? Let us know in the comments below.  

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