Conor Lennon
Published on
Closedown Periods, Annual Leave and Working on a Public Holiday.
What You Need to Know Before This Holiday Season

Some of the most commonly asked questions by our clients in the leadup to the annual summer holiday season are:

  1. My company has an annual closedown over the holiday season – how does taking annual leave work? What happens if I don’t have enough annual leave?
  2. I want to work during the holiday season. Can I work on a public holiday? Can my employer force me to take annual leave?


Closedown Periods

The Holidays Act 2003 (“the Act”), defines a closedown period as a period:

…during which an employer customarily closes the employer’s operations or discontinues the work of 1 or more employees; and requires the employer’s employees to take some or all of their annual holidays.

Employers are allowed to have only one closedown during any 12-month period. However, an employer is allowed to operate different closedown periods for each separate part of their business. An employer is allowed to require you to take any annual leave that you may have during the closedown period. However, you must be given at least 14 days’ notice in writing.

If you have some annual leave, but not enough to cover the whole closedown period, you may agree with your employer to take some of the closedown period as annual leave in advance. If agreement cannot be reached, you may need to take some unpaid leave over the closedown period.

However, if you are not entitled to any annual leave when a closedown period begins, and you have not agreed with your employer to take annual leave in advance, a different set of rules applies. Your employer must pay you 8% of your gross earnings (your pay before tax and other deductions are made) since you have started your job, or since you last became entitled to annual leave.

For example, if you started a new job working 40 hours per week on June 21st, you will not be entitled to any annual leave until that date in the following June. If you have earned a gross amount of $10,000 since starting your job, then your employer will be required to pay you 8% of that, being $800 (that figure is also a gross figure). Employers often wish to skip this process, by allowing their employees to take annual leave in advance.

Working During The Holidays

Some people prefer to work over the summer holiday period. However, if your employer wishes to close down their business, you are not entitled to work during that closedown period.

If your employer continues to operate their business, then work continues on as normal for you during any other time of the year. The only exceptions are public holidays. If you are required to work on a public holiday (all public holidays, not just those in the Christmas and new-year period), then you must be paid at your normal rate, plus an additional 50 percent (also referred to as being paid “time and a half”). An “alternative holiday” (commonly referred to as a ‘day in lieu’) must also be provided.

Should you have any questions, or if you'd like to discuss this topic further, please reach out to Conor Lennon.