Planning for the Christmas crunch

  • Opinion
  • October 23, 2015
  • Retail NZ
Planning for the Christmas crunch

As Christmas rapidly approaches, many retailers will be planning to ramp up their staffing capacity. Other things to consider will be ensuring you are aware of public holiday obligations, and making arrangements if you are planning on having an annual closedown.

If you are planning to take on any extra staff in the lead up to Christmas, remember the rules for fixed term and casual employment. The need for extra staffing at a busy time is a genuine business reason for having a fixed term agreement but you must recruit on that basis, making sure your intention is clear from the outset. The employment agreement must include the reason for the fixed term and how and when employment will end. In all cases, you will need to negotiate, agree and sign the employment agreement before employment commences.  Remember not to mistake part-timers for casual workers. If the work is in a regular pattern, employees should be on a fixed-term part-time agreement.

When you are preparing pays over the Christmas period, don’t forget to factor in the impact of the special transfer rules, i.e. when Christmas public holidays fall on weekends. This year, Boxing Day and the day after New Year’s Day fall on Saturdays and will trigger the special rules of transfer. For these days you will need to assess each employee’s entitlement for each holiday.

Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on Fridays and are not subject to transfer – so public holiday entitlements apply to anyone working on these days.

The only restricted trading day over this period is Christmas Day, Friday 25 December. Unless a shop is exempt, it is an offence to open on Christmas Day.

Some retailers may be planning for their annual close down over this period, for or all or part of their business.  Employers may (if they choose) have an annual closedown once a year and require employees to take annual leave during the period of the closedown, employees must be given at least 14 days’ notice. Employees who have not been employed for 12 months up to the closedown date and do not have an annual holiday entitlement should be paid 8% of their gross earnings for the days they normally would have worked during the closedown period up to the closedown date. As an alternative, by agreement between the employer and employee, the employee may take annual holidays in advance of entitlement.  If public holidays fall inside the closedown period, employees should be paid for them if they’re on days they would have usually worked.

This article originally appeared on Retail NZ's blog.

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