News & Thinking

Easter and Anzac trading restriction – what are retail employers allowed to do?

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Anne Wilson

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Anne Wilson

Thinking about the Easter/ANZAC holidays? Which ever way you like to enjoy your Easter, retail employers need to be aware of the special rules that apply to shop trading on these days of special significance.

Shops are required be closed all day on Good Friday and Easter Sunday and until 1pm on ANZAC day. Employers who don’t close shop may face a $1,000 fine. Exceptions apply to shops such as petrol stations, dairies, takeaway food outlets and pharmacies.

Further exceptions apply to Easter Sunday only. Garden centres can trade on Easter Sunday and local councils can have a policy in place that allows shops in the local authority to trade on Easter Sunday. There are no Easter Sunday shop trading policies in place for Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin or Nelson cities but there are in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu-Whanganui, Wellington, Marlborough, wider Canterbury and Southland. Employers should check with their local councils to find out what is allowed in their areas before opening.

Despite any exceptions, an employer may find it difficult to get staff to work on Easter Sunday. A shop employee may refuse to work on Easter Sunday without having to provide the employer with a reason and an employer cannot treat them adversely for doing so. A provision in an employment agreement requiring an employee to work, or be available to work on Easter Sunday is unenforceable. An employer who wants a shop employee to work on Easter Sunday must give them at least 4 weeks’ notice of their right to refuse to work. Breaching these obligations may give rise to a personal grievance claim.

Employers will then need to consider what their obligations are to employees over the holidays. While Good Friday and ANZAC days are public holidays, Easter Sunday is not. This means that employees who work on Easter Sunday are not entitled to be paid time and a half or to receive an alternative holiday (unless their employment agreement provides otherwise). Employers who aren’t able to open on Easter Sunday may be required to pay employees who usually work on a Sunday or who are unable to work their minimum contracted hours because the shop is shut. Employees who would otherwise work on Good Friday and ANZAC day but who cannot because the shop is shut are entitled to a paid public holiday on those days.

An employer’s obligations around Easter and ANZAC day can be tricky, please contact us.