Easter trading

With Easter just around the corner employers whose businesses are shops should be aware of their obligations, and their employee’s rights, in respect of restricted trading.

On Easter Sunday, the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 requires most shops (being buildings, places, or parts of a building or place, where goods are kept, sold, or offered for sale, by retail) to be closed unless they meet certain conditions. Those that may be open, under conditions, include dairies, service stations, cafes, souvenir shops, and shops providing services rather than goods. Shops may also remain open in specific areas that are exempted from the restrictions, such as Queenstown and Taupo, or are permitted under a local council policy. It is your responsibility as a business owner to determine whether you are permitted to trade over Easter.

All shop employees have the right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday. Therefore, if an employer is permitted to trade on Easter Sunday, or wants employees to work, the employer must follow a specific process, as set out in the Act.

Employers who require employees to work on Easter Sunday must:

  • Notify employees in writing that they have a right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday.
  • Deliver the notice to the employee either in person, by email, or in any other manner specified in the employee’s employment agreement.
  • Notice must be given no earlier than 8 weeks and no later than 4 weeks before Easter Sunday, for employees who started employment more than 4 weeks before Easter Sunday, and as soon as reasonably practicable after the employee commences employment for new employees starting 4 weeks or less before Easter Sunday.

This process must be repeated each year and can not just be written into an employment agreement. Employers are required to give notice to employees even if they are not permitted to open their shop on Easter Sunday, but still want shop employees to work (i.e. to stack shelves).

Employers can not compel employees to work on Easter Sunday, or treat the employee adversely because they refuse to work. If an employer does not follow the notice requirements and requires an employee to work on Easter Sunday, this is considered “compelling” and the employer may face risk of the employee raising a personal grievance.

Employees who intend to refuse to work on Easter Sunday must give notice of their intention to do so to their employer, but are not required to give reasons. Notice must be delivered to the employer in writing no later than 14 days from the date they received their employer’s notice. If the employee doesn’t follow the notice requirements, and their employment agreement has a clause stating that they can be required to work on Easter Sunday, their employer can require them to work.

Workplace Law team

If you have any queries in respect of the above, or any other Workplace Law issues, please contact a member of Lane Neave’s Workplace Law team:

Employment: Andrew Shaw, Fiona McMillan, Gwen DrewittMaria Green,  Hannah Martin, Joseph HarropHolly StruckmanAlex Beal, Giuliana Petronelli, Abby Shieh
Immigration: Mark Williams, Rachael Mason, Daniel Kruger, Nicky Robertson, Julia StrickettKen Huang, Mary Zhou, Shi Sheng Cai (Shoosh)Sarah Kirkwood, Janeske SchutteLingbo Yu
ACC: Andrew Shaw
Health and Safety: Andrew ShawFiona McMillan

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