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Christmas FAQ

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Webinar - Pay and the Christmas Holidays

Webinar recording and resources

Missed our 'Pay and the Christmas Holidays' webinar? Or want to watch it again? We've got you covered. Watch the recording or view the slides

Public holiday entitlements

If we close for the day, who needs to be paid for the day off?

Any employee who would have usually been working on that day needs to be paid. Yes, that even includes casuals (if it is determined that they would have been working on that day).

If we have employees working on Christmas Day, what do they get paid?

Employees get paid 1.5x their rate for the day. That includes whatever they earn: so if they earn a pick rate, or a milking rate, on call rate or whatever else it is - they get 1.5x what they earned.

They may also be entitled to an alternative public holiday if it is a day they would have usually worked.

What’s an alternative public holiday and how do I know who gets one?

An alternative public holiday is a banked day off that the employee can take at another time. An alternative date to receive their day off for the public holiday. It is often called a day in lieu, but try to get the proper name stuck in your head to make it easy when it comes to entering stuff in payroll. Employees get one if they work on a public holiday, and it's a day they would have usually been at work.

Employees don’t receive an alternative public holiday if they are called in to cover a public holiday on a day they don’t usually work (but they still get time and a half for the hours worked).

An alternative public holiday gets added to an employee’s balance and they can then take it at another time. If they haven’t used it after 12 months, they can request to cash it up/take it as paid without having the day off. It can’t be cashed in until it has been 12 months since they earned it.

Do I have to pay employees before the public holiday?

In the first instance you should refer to your employment agreement to see what was stated in there, if anything. If there’s nothing in there you should look at policies, and then what’s been done before.

There’s no rule that says you must pay before a public holiday, but you should discuss it with your employees in good faith and let them know what to expect. Ideally you would do what has always been done before. Most employers pay prior to the public holiday and most employees would expect to be paid before the holiday too.

We closedown over Christmas and New Year. What do I need to know about closedowns?

If a business has what is called a "customary closedown", where the business ceases operations at a specific time of year, things can look a bit different. You can require employees to take their annual leave (you must give them 14 days notice).

If an employee has been working for you for less than 12 months, and they don’t have entitled leave, you would pay 8% of their gross earnings and then shift their entitlement date to your closedown/company anniversary date. This sounds tricky, but we’ve got you covered - feel free to contact our wonderful Support team if you need help with this.

MBIE also has great information on this in their Annual Closedowns page and Closedowns Guidance flowchart

An employee is new and only just started working for me, or they only just started working on Monday/Tuesday. Are they entitled to be paid for the public holiday?

Any employee who would have usually been working on that day is entitled to be paid for the day. There’s no minimum period of time (we often hear people talking about working that day for four weeks or establishing a pattern). Even if that is a new working day for them, if you know they would have been working on that day if it were not a public holiday, they should be paid for it.

My employee works some Mondays, but not others, and there’s no pattern. How can I decide if it was an otherwise working day for them?

Isn’t payroll fun! There’s no specific rule that can determine this for you (such as referring to a specific number of weeks). You need to use the information you have about your employee’s normal working patterns. If they didn’t work for the last five Mondays but their roster recently changed to include Monday again, it might still be an otherwise working day for them. If they worked the last four Mondays to cover for someone but they weren’t going to carry on working Mondays when they got back, it might not be an otherwise working day for them.

You have to have a look at the information you have to hand, as well as any reasonable expectations of both you and the employee, and try to come to an answer. This will usually be pretty straight forward (working every other Monday, for example, or only the last Monday of the month) but occasionally you’re going to have to make your best informed assessment. The best thing you can do is let your employee know a) ahead of time, and b) how you came to the conclusion you did.

My employee was sick on a public holiday, how do I pay them?

They are paid for the public holiday taken rather than using their sick leave balance.

My employee is on long term unpaid leave or ACC, do I pay them?

You only pay them if there was an expectation they would have been at work, so generally speaking, you don’t pay them for the public holiday. If your employee was on unpaid leave for a short holiday and they didn’t have enough annual leave to cover the time, then you’d still pay them for the public holiday. Feel free to contact our Support team if you want to discuss any specific situations.

Recording leave in PaySauce

How do I enter public holidays for my employees?

We’ve got you covered! You can either follow the steps in the article below, or if you want a bit more detail, follow along with the video.

How do I enter a Christmas bonus payment?

Adding one off payments to pay runs is super simple - check out this helpful video. You can add one off payments either as gross or net amounts.

Can I set up all the pays in advance to go out on the right days?

You sure can! Go through the pay period set up for each pay run as normal, and process for the date you want it to come out. Then move on to the next pay run. Just be aware that you’ll need to avoid weekends and public holidays.

Please note that if you are using Akahu or the ASB API as your payment method the funds are deducted at the time of processing (i.e. when you close the pay) and released to staff on the payment date you set.

What if I set up the pays early but my employee ended up taking different leave days than we expected?

No problem, it is easy to fix! If you need to add a leave day that wasn’t recorded originally, you can just record this in the next pay. You’ll still be able to record the correct date that the leave was taken even if it isn’t in the current pay period.

If you recorded leave that they didn’t end up taking, we can help you with an adjustment to credit it back to their balance.

Is it okay to estimate what my employee will work so we can set up the pays in advance?

If you need to set up the pays early because you won’t be available to run them over the Christmas period, depending on how your employees work and get paid you might have to make your best judgement on what to pay them. Tell your employees what you’re paying and why, and you can agree that any difference (extra hours that need to be paid, or hours that got paid that they didn’t work) can be either added or deducted in the next pay period.

PaySauce team

Are you available over the holidays?

Our team isn’t available on the public holidays or the weekends, but all other days we are open for business!

What’s the best way to contact Support?

Whatever is best for you: you can use our chat feature or email us, or call us (phone support is available on our Standard or Premium plans.) We do get lots of queries in the lead up to the Christmas holidays, so while we’ve prepared as much as possible to have extra resources available to you for guidance if you need it, there may be a slightly longer wait time when call volumes are really high.

What are the payment processing days over the holiday period?

Bank files will be processed over the Christmas period on the following dates:

  • December 2023
    • 22nd (Fri)
    • 27th (Wed)
    • 28th (Thu)
    • 29th (Fri)
  • January 2024
    • 3rd (Wed)
    • 4th (Thu)
    • 5th (Fri)

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