Santa Claus is coming to town…

Date Added: 17th December 2012 from

Santa ClausChristmas is just around the corner, and no doubt Chamber members are in the midst of that delicate balancing act of running businesses while attending various festive events and celebrations and winding down for the holiday period. With that in mind, a reminder about public holidays is always timely.

This year, the Christmas and New Year holidays fall on Tuesday and Wednesday. The good news is that this means no complicated ‘Mondayising’ of any of the four public holidays is necessary. Staff are entitled to payment for the day if their normal working week would encompass Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays. If an employee does not normally work on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, then payment is unlikely to be required (but always check the relevant employment agreement to be sure).

Work performed on any public holiday is payable in accordance with relevant employment agreements, but cannot be less than time and a half of an employee’s relevant daily pay. Staff who are required to work on one or more of the public holidays will also be entitled to an alternative holiday.  And be careful with staff who are on call – payment and/or an alternative holiday might be required depending on the nature of any restrictions that are placed on staff’s ability to enjoy their time away from work, and whether any work is actually required.

Hopefully, staff have already applied for leave over the Christmas/New Year period, but for those members whose businesses are closing down, make doubly sure that staff have enough leave to cover the relevant period, or that appropriate alternative arrangements (such as leave in advance or leave without pay) have been agreed. Otherwise, you may end up having to provide work or payment to employees who have fallen through administrative cracks. Again, a careful check of employment agreements will be necessary if any issues arise.

Now might also be a good time to remind staff of any expectations around behaviour at staff or client functions, and in relation to the requirement to maintain a safe and healthy work environment - which includes not driving work vehicles while under the influence of anything ‘festive’ and reporting in a fit condition for work regardless of out-of-office activities.

We can assist with any queries regarding public holidays and leave, and can provide practical advice on any matters that may crop up over the holiday period.  While our offices are closed between Christmas and New Year, members can direct urgent queries to our Advice Line on 0800 800 362.

We wish all of our members and their staff a safe and enjoyable holiday period, and we look forward to being of assistance in 2013.