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Until recently it was illegal for all but a few businesses to be open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

The rules have changed with regard to Easter Sunday. The government has responded to changes in the marketplace and has acknowledged there is now (and probably has been for some time) a desire for kiwis to go shopping over the Easter period.

It had been against the law for most businesses to open on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and before 1PM on Christmas Day and Anzac Day.

Legislation has been enacted which allows local authorities (that means the local council) to determine what businesses can open on Easter Sunday.

If you plan to be doing business on Easter Sunday you need to be mindful of measures included in the legislation to protect employees.

In fact, you have an obligation to tell staff that they can refuse to work. It is quite acceptable to send this out as a group email.

It does need to happen, though, between four and eight weeks before Easter Sunday. If a staff member joins within four weeks of Easter Sunday then you need to explain to them of this right “as soon as possible”.

Workers are fully entitled to refuse to work on Easter Sunday. They don’t have to give a reason and there cannot be repercussions. However, they must tell you they are not going to work.

If they feel they have been made to work on Easter Sunday or if they feel they have been treated badly for refusing to work on Easter Sunday, they are entitled to raise a personal grievance against the employer.

If your staff members decide they don’t intend to work Easter Sunday they must tell you in writing within 14 days of you advising them of their right to refuse. Therefore the sooner you tell them of their right, the sooner you can draw up your rosters.

They can advise you by letter or email.

But the first thing you have to do is to contact your local council to see if you are allowed to trade in the first place!

The information in this article is indicative of NZ tax rules and changes and not intended to be complete for all intents or purposes and does not constitute advice. It is recommended that you obtain professional advice, suited to your particular circumstances, from us before acting on anything you read.