3 holiday season tips for employers

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The end of year parties have started and the Christmas tree is up. 2020 is, finally, nearly over. However, before you open the champagne, have you made your staffing plans for the holiday season?

Many of you will have your annual closedown. If you are part of the hospitality or tourism industry you will likely be hoping to make the most of the holiday season to make up for income lost during lockdown. Whatever your business plans, here are a few tips.

Annual closedown

A number of businesses in New Zealand will be having an annual closedown Christmas and New Year.  If this applies to you, you will need to have given your staff at least 14 days’ notice.  Since your employees are required to take their annual leave during this period, it is preferable to have given more notice of this shutdown.  For staff who have been working less than a year and have therefore not accrued enough annual leave there are also some legal requirements for the employers.

More about annual closedowns

Annual leave

If your business is remaining open during the holiday period, some of your staff are likely to be taking some annual leave.  Employees are entitled to up to four weeks paid annual leave a year and the must be negotiated with the employer, allowing you to stagger the weeks that employees can take their leave.

There are a few obligations too:

  • An employer must give their employees an opportunity to take at least two of the four weeks annual leave continuously, at some point during the year. This is to allow the employee to have an extended opportunity for rest and recovery.
  • A refusal by the employer to grant annual leave on the dates requested must have fair and reasonable grounds.
  • An employer can’t cancel an employee’s annual leave unless they agree to it.

An employer may also grant annual leave in advance. This is a common occurrence in New Zealand, despite there being no legal requirement to do so.

More about taking annual leave

Monday-isation in 2020/2021

The 2020/2021 holiday season is subject to Monday-isation, as a result of Boxing Day and the day after New Year’s Day falling on a Saturday. This means that Monday 28th December and Monday 4th January will also be public holidays.  What this means for you:

  • If your employee normally works on a Monday and they work on 28th December and/or 4th January this holiday period, they are entitled to public holiday pay (time and a half) AND a (paid) day off in lieu.
  • If your employee doesn’t normally work on a Monday but work that day, they are entitled to public holiday pay (time and a half) only.

In summary, if you are open for business on Monday 28th December or Monday 4th January, you need to pay your staff time and a half plus give anyone who would normally work Monday, a day off in lieu.

It is worth noting that your employees do not have to agree to work on public holidays unless it is noted in their employment contract.

More about working on public holidays

 In summary

As an employer you will need to:

  • Negotiate annual leave dates with your employees.
  • Give them 14 days’ notice of any annual shutdown or if you require them to take leave on certain dates.
  • Keep accurate records of all leave taken by your employees.
  • Plan for the financial implications of the holiday period.

If you would like some help to plan for the financial implications of the holiday period, or understanding your legal requirements around staffing at this time, get in touch.

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