Tips for staffing your business this holiday season

Date: 2nd December 2015

For businesses in the Otago and Canterbury region, Christmas and holiday season usually means one of two things:

  • Shutting down shop and all staff go on holiday, or
  • Business cranks up and the entire staff is on deck as tourists hit town.

In either one of these scenarios there is business implications regarding staff that need to be considered. Public holidays, annual closedowns, different pay rates  are just some of the considerations in the run-up to Christmas. Let’s take a look.

Christmas tree ornament

Businesses that have an annual closedown

If you have an annual closedown, eg the office or workshop is closed over Christmas and no one works, your employees have to take time off even if they don’t have any annual leave. You have to give 14 days’ notice of the closedown.

Employees must:

  • take annual leave over the closedown, or
  • take unpaid leave if they don’t have any leave available.

If the closedown period includes any public holidays, you need to pay your staff for them if they fall on days they’d usually work.

Staff employed less than a year

If you have an employee who has been in the job for less than 12 months, they still have to take time off during an annual shutdown. Here’s what you can offer new employee rather than them having to take leave without pay:

  • Pay them 8% of their gross salary earned up to the shutdown start date, less any annual leave already taken.
  • Change the date they become entitled to annual leave to one year on from the start of the shutdown.
  • Let them take paid annual leave in advance (you both have to agree to this).
  • Don’t forget to allow for paid public holidays if these fall on a day they usually work.

Read more about leave during annual closedowns.

Calculating holiday pay and entitlements

Employees are entitled to a paid day off on a public holiday if it would otherwise be a working day. This Christmas season two public holidays – Boxing Day and January 2 – fall on a Saturday, so this has implications for employees.

Public holidays over Christmas 2015/New Year 2016:

  • Friday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Saturday 26 December or Monday 28 December – Boxing Day
  • Friday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Saturday 2 January or Monday 4 January – Day after New Year’s Day

For staff who don’t work weekends, the first workday after these dates will be treated as their public holidays – so they won’t have to work on Monday 28 December 2015 and Monday 4 January 2016. If your employees usually work weekends, then there are two options:

  • They can get the Saturdays as paid days off.
  • If they work on those Saturdays, you must pay them time and a half and allow them to take a paid day off later.

Read more about holiday pay and entitlements and days in lieu.

Casual Workers

Unexpected events, such as a staff member calling in sick, can potentially derail your business day. So having casual staff available during the busy holiday season is very useful. Like all employees, a casual employees needs an employment agreement and the agreement should make it clear:

  • There is no guarantee of work on a specific day.
  • The amount of work they’ll get will fluctuate.
  • How you’ll let them know when you would like them to work.
  • They’re not obliged to make themselves available for work if asked.

Don’t get casual workers confused with part-time workers – if the work is in a regular pattern, they’re not casuals and should have a permanent part-time agreement.

More about employing casual workers.

More information

Get your calculations right by using the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s holiday pay tool, or talk to us.

Seasonal scenarios



Posted in: Alexandra, Christchurch, Latest News, Queenstown, Wanaka