This year, for the first time ever, shops in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty are allowed to open on Easter Sunday.
This is due to changes to the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990, and subsequent bylaws passed by both local councils.
While this means more opportunities for shopping and dining out, for employers and employees it means new laws to adhere to.
Employers must notify employees of their right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday.
Notice may be in the form of a letter or memo delivered in person, or by email, or via group email, or in a way specified in the Employment Agreement.
It must be provided between four and eight weeks in advance, and this process must be repeated every year.
Employees who don’t want to work Easter Sunday, must do so in writing within 14 days of receiving notice. This can be by letter or email or as specified in their Employment Agreement.
If an employee does not want to work Easter Sunday and fails to give written notice, they can be required to work.
Employers need to be mindful that if employees think they have been treated unfairly, they can raise a personal grievance claim against them.
Under the Act, employers are barred from treating their employees adversely for exercising their right to refuse work, for example not offering the same working conditions as another employee in similar circumstances, or dismissing or retiring an employee.
If an employer makes an employee work Easter Sunday, without following notice requirements, their actions are likely to be viewed as compulsion.
Best practice is to make sure the terms of an Employment Agreement are clear to both parties and adhered to.
If you are an employer and need guidance on the Easter Trading laws, we can help.