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Employee's entitlement working on public holidays

What is an employee’s entitlement if they work on a public holiday?


Under the Holidays Act 2003, if an employee works on a public holiday, the minimum payment they should receive is time and half for the hours worked on the public holiday. For example, if an employee normally works 8 hours a day, but on a public holiday they only work 2 hours, the minimum payment they would receive for the day would be 2 hours at time and a half. This applies to all employees – wage and salary earners alike. Therefore, if the employer asks the employee to work on a public holiday, they should act in good faith and explain how this entitlement works to the employee so that they are aware of what they are agreeing to.


If the public holiday the employee worked on fell on a day that the employee would otherwise have worked even if it was not a public holiday, they would be entitled to an alternative holiday (a day off on pay at another time) regardless of how many hours they worked on the public holiday.


An employer can only require an employee to work on a public holiday if it is written into the employee’s employment agreement and the public holiday falls on a normal working day for the employee. In all other circumstances, the employer would require the employee’s agreement to work on a public holiday.


Click here for further information on public holidays


Click here for information on alternative holidays

Use our Holidays and Leave Tool to work out entitlements for public holidays, and sickness and bereavement leave.


Date Modified: Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Disclaimer: The content on this website covers common problems. It will not answer every question and should not be used as a substitute for legislation or legal advice.State sector employers and employees may be affected by some differences in the laws that apply to them (e.g. State Sector Act 1988).The Department of Labour takes no responsibility for the results of any actions taken on the basis of information on this website, nor for any errors or omissions.