Can my employer make me work on the weekend – and if I do, am I entitled to compensation?
Your hours of work should be agreed to between you and your employer and recorded in your employment agreement. This includes whether your employer requires you to work on a weekend.
You are entitled to be paid for the hours you work but whether you will receive a penal rate (higher rate of pay for working on a particular day or type of day) for working on a Saturday or Sunday will also depend on what has been agreed to between you and your employer.
Your employer must not require you to work hours which might put your health and safety at risk.
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Can my employer make me work on a public holiday?
Your employer can only require you to work on a public holiday, if:
- the holiday falls on a day you would otherwise have worked and
- your employment agreement says you will have to work on the public holiday.
If your employment agreement does not require you to work on a public holiday and it is a day you would otherwise work, then you are entitled to take the holiday as paid time off (or you can work on that day if you agree to it).
For more information go to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)’s Employment website or call MBIE on 0800 20 90 20.
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What am I entitled to if I work on a public holiday?
It depends on whether the public holiday falls on a day you would otherwise work on, and whether your employment agreement requires you to work on a public holiday:
- If you were employed specifically to work on public holidays, then you are entitled to be paid at least time and a half for the hours you work (but you aren’t entitled to an alternative paid day off unless this is something that you and your employer have agreed to).
- If you were not employed to just work on public holidays and your employer requires you to work on a public holiday that falls on a day you would not otherwise work on, you are entitled to time and a half for those hours but are not entitled to an alternative holiday (unless this is something that you and your employer have agreed to).
- If you were not employed just to work on public holidays, and your employer requires you to work on a public holiday that falls on a day you would otherwise work on, your employer must pay you at least time-and-a-half for each hour of work plus an alternative paid day off at a later date.
The alternative holiday (also called a “day off in lieu”) must be a whole day, even if you only worked on part of the public holiday. If you and your employer can’t agree what date you want to observe the public holiday, your employer is able to decide for you (providing it is a reasonable date) and give you at least fourteen days’ notice of the date.
The Employment NZ website contains more information about an employee’s entitlements on public holidays.
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Am I entitled to be paid time-and-a-half for working on a public holiday if I am a casual employee?
All employees - whether they are casual, fixed-term or permanent, full-time or part-time - are entitled to public holiday benefits.
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What can I do if I think I have not been paid correctly for working on a public holiday or weekend?
Check how much pay you are receiving against the information about calculating payment for working on a public holiday on the Employment website.
If you are concerned that you are not receiving the correct amount of compensation for working on a public holiday or weekend, then the first step would be to discuss your concerns with your employer.
If this does not resolve the issue, or you are not comfortable with talking to your employer about it, you can talk to your union representative (if you belong to a union) or contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) on 0800 20 90 20. MBIE can refer you to independent mediation if this is appropriate.
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When a public holiday is “Mondayised” how should my pay be calculated if I work both days?
Some public holidays are “Mondayised” – that is, if the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday then it is observed on the next business day (usually the following Monday). For example if Waitangi Day is on a Sunday then the Monday is treated as a public holiday.
If you have worked both the actual public holiday and the day it was observed, you are only entitled to treat one of those days as a public holiday – usually is it the day you normally work.
In the above example, if you worked on Waitangi Day (Sunday) as well as the observed day (the Monday), and you normally work on Mondays but not on weekends, then you should be paid time-and-a-half for the hours you worked on the Monday, and be paid at your normal rate for the hours you worked on the Sunday.
You can find more information about how your pay is affected if the public holiday falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, on the Employment NZ website.
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My employer has asked me to ‘swap’ my public holiday with another date. What does that mean?
This is a usual option if you work shifts that start on one day and end on another (eg you start work at 10am on Tuesday and finish at 6am on Wednesday). If your shift includes part of a day that is a public holiday, you and your employer can agree to ‘transfer’ the public holiday to another agreed day.
This means you would work on the public holiday and take a paid day off on a different day, which has to be a day that you would normally work.
If you end up working on the “replacement” day off as well, you are entitled to be paid time and a half for the hours you worked that day and take another day as a replacement public holiday.
If you and your employer do agree that you’ll transfer a public holiday to another date, the agreement must be in writing. The agreement should specify exactly which public holiday is being transferred (for example, if you’re working on Labour Day and taking your Labour Day holiday on another date, the agreement needs to say that you are exchanging Labour Day). It should also specify the date you are transferring it to.
Your employer can’t ask you to exchange your public holiday just to avoid paying you time-and-a-half (even if that might be the outcome).
More information about transferring a public holiday is on the Employment NZ website.
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I agreed to transfer my public holiday to an alternative date, but the new date is going to be during the week I’m on leave. What will happen to my leave entitlement?
Your alternative holiday shouldn’t be taken from your annual leave entitlement. If, for example, that day falls within a five-day period which you were taking as annual leave, only four of your annual leave entitlement will be used.