South Canterbury votes on Queen Elizabeth II's holiday clash

Businesses and HR leaders request clarity on legal operations

South Canterbury votes on Queen Elizabeth II's holiday clash

Citizens of South Canterbury have cast their votes on whether to celebrate their provincial anniversary on a later date, after it clashed with the mourning date for Queen Elizabeth II on September 26. New Zealand's Holidays Act 2003 states that if two or more public holidays fall on the same days, they must be treated as one holiday. This case drew mixed reactions from the public, as citizens also expressed displeasure on possibly losing a day off because of the law.

"South Canterbury already has their regional holiday on the day announced for the Queen's Memorial," said one Twitter user. "So, they get one day off less than the rest of the country. Did anyone look at the calendar?"

"A moment of silence for the people of South Canterbury, for whom the 26th is their provincial Anniversary Day, and hence a public holiday anyway," read another tweet about the clash.

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

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment was instructed to "reach out to the local leadership" in the province who can move or celebrate their provincial holiday on another date. As a result, a poll that ended on Friday evening was launched that sought the public's opinion on whether to move the holiday to Canterbury Anniversary Day on November 11.

The results will be presented to the meetings of the Mackenzie, Timaru, and Waimate District Councils on September 20, where they will decide for each district.

Businesses want clarity

With the final decision yet to come out, employers are left on the edge of their seats as they consider the implications of possibly closing for another day due to the separation of the public holidays. South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith previously told Stuff that businesses are already seeking clarity on whether to operate that day.

Read more: Holidays Act overhaul: The changes employers need to know about

"Businesses have always asked for and seek clarity to operate, unfortunately this once again causes unnecessary stress," Smith told the news outlet. But on whether businesses approved of separate public holidays, Smith noted in a 1 News interview that there was "no clear and singular view from the business community" regarding the matter.

She said that some businesses do not want to lose out on business on Canterbury Anniversary, when a lot of people go out to Timaru District to shop. On the other hand, another group of businesses consider that they "cannot afford another public holiday".

"Other businesses have already asked the Chamber to lobby to permanently shift the South Canterbury Anniversary to Canterbury Anniversary as they believe this will minimise disruption to business," she told 1 News.

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