Managing Public Holidays in 2024

A quick guide to transferring public holidays by agreement

As we round the corner of 2023 and look ahead to 2024, it’s worth bearing in mind that a chunk of our statutory public holidays next year land mid-week. 

If this has the potential to be disruptive to your business operations and/or workforce management, you may wish to consider seeking an agreement with employees to transfer the public holiday to a different date.

For example, rather than observing Waitangi Day on a Tuesday, you may request that the statutory holiday instead be transferred and observed on the Monday prior or the Friday following. When the public holiday is transferred, the day it is moved to becomes the public holiday for the employee/s.

While the transfer of observance of the public holiday might be for business reasons, public holidays can also be transferred to a different date to meet the individual needs of an employee.

For example, rather than observing Christmas Day on Wednesday and Boxing Day on Thursday, employees could request to transfer these holidays to alternative dates as appropriate to their religious beliefs or personal circumstances.


Things to remember:

  • The agreement to transfer observance of a public holiday can be made at individual, team or company-wide level, and can be made by either the employer or the employee.


  • All requests to transfer the observance of public holidays must be made and agreed in writing and considered in good faith by both parties.


  • The transferred date must be an otherwise working day for the employee and not another public holiday. The transfer must not reduce the number of public holidays the employee is entitled to in law.


  • The transferred date becomes the employee’s ‘observed public holiday’. Employees who have agreed to the transfer and are then scheduled to work on the ‘observed public holiday’ date must be paid at least time and a half for the hours worked, with an alternative paid day off in lieu. Those who have agreed to transfer and are not required to work must receive relevant daily pay or average daily pay for the day that the public holiday is transferred to.


If a day that a public holiday is transferred to falls within a period that an employee is taking as annual holidays, then that day must be treated as a public holiday and not as part of the employee’s annual holidays.

If an employee is scheduled to work on the day that a public holiday is transferred to but is sick, they get paid their relevant daily pay or average daily pay as if they had a paid, unworked public holiday. They don’t have sick leave deducted.