An Employer’s Guide to 2020 Easter/Anzac Trading Under Covid-19

9 April, 2020 | Carolyn Ranson

Easter and Anzac Day trading can be a challenging time of year as business owners as you decide whether you can (or want to) open that period and as you grapple with the complexities of the Holidays Act and understand employee entitlements.

This year, the Covid-19 lockdown situation has added to the uncertainties and confusion, especially where you may have essential workers operating.

We set out here the requirements specific to Easter/Anzac 2020 under Covid-19 restrictions.


Easter Sunday/Anzac Day Trading

Easter Sunday and Anzac Day (to 1.00 p.m.) are not Public Holidays but are Restricted Trading Days. If you are operating as an essential service under the Covid-19 restrictions, you will also have to ascertain whether you are also able to open on a Restricted Trading Day.

Each individual Council decides whether or not retailers in their Districts can open on a Restricted Trading Day.  Your first step is to check on your local council website.

Shop owners are responsible for determining if they meet both criteria as an essential service and able to open on a Restricted Trading Day. If your business is one of the following you can probably open:

  • Service Station
  • Dairy
  • Pharmacy

If you can open, you should be aware that essential shop workers have the right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday without repercussions for their employment relationship.

As Anzac Day and Easter Sunday are not public holidays any employee that agrees to work will be entitled to be paid only their normal pay.  The employer and employee may agree otherwise.

Where you are an essential service and you trade on a Restricted Trading Day, but you do not meet the criteria (whether an owner or manager/agent) you are subject to a fine of up to $1,000.00.


Non-essential workers

Easter Friday and Easter Monday are Public Holidays and are observed on the days they fall (Friday 10th April 2019 and Monday 13nd of April 2020).

Employees will be paid for those days (at their normal daily or average rate) if they would otherwise be working days for them based on pre Covid-19 working patterns.

Determining whether the day would “otherwise be working days” will be based on the employee’s pre-lockdown working pattern.  Although, if a permanent change has been agreed this would apply to the assessment.

Employers are able to utilise the wage subsidy to cover some or all of their employee’s wages, including public holidays.

If the employer applied for the wage subsidy after 4 p.m. on Friday 27 March 2020, it must pass on the full wage subsidy received for that employee to them, except when the employees’ income is normally less that the wage subsidy, when they must be paid their normal wages.


Essential workers

If the employee is an essential worker, they can only be made to work on a public holiday if:

  • it falls on a day that they would have otherwise worked on, and
  • their employment agreement says they have to work on the public holiday.

If an employee is required to be available to work on a public holiday that doesn’t fall within their agreed and guaranteed hours, this must be covered by an availability clause in their employment agreement. The employer will have to pay reasonable compensation for this unless there is agreement that reasonable compensation is provided through their salary. The employer must also have genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds for including an availability provision and for requiring the employee to be available on the public holiday.

If essential workers work on a public holiday and it is a day they would normally work they are entitled to payment at one and a half times their usual daily rate and a day off in lieu.

If essential workers work on a public holiday and it is not a day they would normally work they are entitled to payment at one and a half times their usual daily rate they are not entitled to a day off in lieu.


Transferring the Observance of Public Holidays

If essential workers work on a public holiday, employers and employees can agree to transfer the observance of public holidays to another working day.  Any request must be considered in good faith and any agreement must meet minimum statutory requirements.


Casual/On Call Workers

Casual/On Call Workers are entitled to receive payment for a public holiday if it would otherwise have been a working day.  For example if an employee can show a pattern of working on Mondays and/or Fridays, they would more than likely be entitled to be paid for Easter Friday and Easter Monday.


If you would like to discuss any matters relating to Easter and Anzac Trading, Covid-19 restrictions, the wage subsidy or any other employment law matters please contact our employment law specialist Carolyn Ranson by email: or telephone Suzanne Sumner on 09 837 6840.

Do you need assistance understanding your obligations as an employer during Easter and Anzac trade under Covid-19 restrictions?
Contact our Employment Law specialist, Carolyn Ranson today to set up an appointment.

email Carolyn
+64 9 837 6840

About the author

An experienced employment, estate litigation and elder law lawyer, Carolyn completed her law degree at City University, London in 1996. She was in house legal counsel for a large retirement village operator, before entering private practice in 2000. She joined
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