NZ Holiday Pay and Leave EntitlementsChristmas is coming! Is your business holiday-ready?

The Christmas season is a time of opportunity and challenge particularly for business owners. During this season there may be company events, promotions, bonuses and gifts to prepare and organise before everyone takes their summer holidays. Below is a 3-step guide to prepare you and your business for this holiday season.

Step 1 – Take time to calculate and pay your employees what they are entitled to

As a business owner, you have obligations in relation to holiday pay, bonuses and entitlements of your employees. Take time to prepare your employees holiday pay before you get caught up with the busy season. If you offer performance-based bonuses or gifts make sure they are cost-effective. Consult with a Chartered Accountant to get professional advice about company bonuses and gifts and any tax implications.  

Here are some important reminders about the upcoming festive season: 

1. There are four public holidays for this Christmas period

  • Friday 25 December – Christmas Day 
  • Saturday 26 December – Boxing Day 
  • Friday 1 January – New Year's Day
  • Saturday 2 January – Day after New Year's Day

2. Two of these public holidays fall on a Saturday -- Boxing Day and 2 January 

  • If your employees do not work on weekends, the first workday after these holidays (Monday 28 December 2015 and Monday 4 January 2016) will be treated as their public holidays.
  • If your staff usually work on Saturday, they observe the public holiday on Saturday. So, if they actually work on those Saturdays you will need to pay them time and a half and allow them to take a paid day off at a later stage.

3. If your business has an annual closedown over the Christmas period, your new employees (less than 12 months in the company) are also required to take time off during that period even though they may not have accrued sufficient leave. Here are some options for new employees: 

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

Step 2 – Prepare early for company events and parties

Memorable company events don't just happen. Early preparation of the things that need to be organised for the events will save you from last minute cramming and hasty decisions. Make a checklist of the nitty gritty details from content and refreshments to venue and transportation. But whatever plans you have for the event or party keep in mind company limitations. Take into consideration the purpose of the event, goals, budget and its impact on your target audience.

Step 3 – Remind your partners and clients about your office Christmas closedown period

Whether you close your office this holiday season or not, it is best to inform your clients early. Send them an email or post an announcement about your closing and reopening dates for your business. If your business is such that you need to work through the holiday season, make sure you have enough staff to cover all the work because some of your employees will want to take their leave at this time.

For more information about holiday and leave entitlements please call us on (09) 576 4166 or request an appointment online. You can also check out the Ministry of Innovation, Business and Employment for a comprehensive overview of what you need to know.