Planning to open your business over the Easter or ANZAC holidays?

Open for business

Regardless of Covid-19 Alert levels, there are some essential rules that apply over the Easter and ANZAC holidays that affect employer obligations to their employees and the ability of shops to trade.

When do Easter and Anzac public holidays fall this year?

In 2021 the public holidays fall on these dates (all in April):

  • Good Friday  2 April
  • Easter Monday  5 April
  • ANZAC Day  Sunday 25 April

Public holidays

What are employee rights for working the upcoming public holidays?

Employees don’t have to agree to work on Good Friday, Easter Monday or Anzac Day, unless these conditions are met: these are days that the employee would have normally worked, and their employment contract says they have to work on the public holidays.

Types of employee

Easter holidays

In addition to the above, if your employee normally works on Fridays and/or Mondays and works on Good Friday - 2 April and/or Easter Monday  5 April, they also have to be given a paid day in lieu for each of these days worked.

However, if your employee normally works on Fridays and/or Mondays and they don’t work on Good Friday  2 April and/or Easter Monday  5 April, they still have to be paid for the holidays.

Shop employees have the right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday (not a public holiday). This acknowledges that Easter Sunday is a day of special significance across New Zealand. Shops include retail stores, plus cafes, bars and restaurants that sell goods including food.


This year, ANZAC Day falls on a Sunday, therefore it is Mondayised.

This is covered by these common scenarios:

  • Amelia works in a construction job, and doesn’t normally work on Sundays. She has her public holiday benefits applied on Monday 26 April when she should get a paid day off.
  • Arun is a retail shop employee who usually works on Sundays but not Mondays. His public holiday benefits apply on Sunday 25 April. If he works the Sunday as usual, he should be paid time and a half (normal pay rate multiplied by 1.5) and an alternative holiday.
  • Mia is a restaurant employee who usually works on both Sundays and Mondays. Her public holiday entitlements apply on 25 April. If she works the two days as usual, she should be paid time and a half for working Sunday and get a paid alternative holiday for working Sunday. For working Monday she should just be paid her normal pay rate.

Can businesses open during Easter and ANZAC holidays?

Shops cannot open on Good Friday, Easter Sunday or ANZAC Day (25 April) until 1pm. However, there are some exceptions:

  • Shops including dairies, service stations, take away bars, restaurants cafes, souvenir stores can open with conditions limiting the goods they can sell based on the type of store they are. Garden centres can only open on Easter Sunday. Pharmacies can open with no conditions.
  • Some shops have an area exemption, for example, tourist resorts.
  • Some shops are covered by a city and district council Easter Sunday trading policy. Contact your council for more information.

These rules only apply to businesses that are shops as covered by the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990. Other businesses can open during the Easter and ANZAC holidays.

Restricted shop trading days

Local council Easter Sunday shop trading policies

For the full Employment New Zealand media release, go here.

For further information or assistance with navigating your employment law needs, please contact our Employment Team (Troy Wano and Jaye Atkin) on 06 768 3710.