Easter Sunday Trading

Page Banner Easter Sunday Trading

In August 2016 the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 was amended, and resulted in three key changes:

  • Territorial authorities can now create local policies to allow shop trading across their entire district or in limited areas on Easter Sunday.
  • All shop employees now have the ability to refuse to work on Easter Sunday, without providing a reason to their employer.
  • Employers must provide formal written notice to their employees that they have the right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday.

Can I open on Easter Sunday?

You are legally allowed to open your shop on Easter Sunday if:

  1. your local Council has adopted a Local Shop Trading Hours Policy that allows trading in your part of the district or city; or
  2. your shop is a garden centre; or
  3. your store is located in Queenstown, or another area that is exempt from the shop trading hours restrictions (see the full list here); or
  4. your shop sells only food, drink, household items, personal items, automotive fuel, lubricants and accessories; and you have only enough items to meet the needs of people who live or are staying in the area;
  5. your principal business is selling souvenirs and/ or duty free goods; or prepared or cooked food ready to be eaten immediately in the form in which it is sold; or
  6. your shop is located at a public passenger transport station or terminal and you sell the above items and/ or books, magazines or newspapers;
  7. your shop is a pharmacy; or
  8. your shop is located in a place where an exhibition or show primarily related to agriculture, art, industry, and science, or any of those matters, is being held.

Still not sure? You can download our useful Easter Trading flowchart here.

Retail Nz Easter Sunday Trading Flowchart

Which Councils have adopted a local Shop Trading Policy?

A number of Councils are considering whether to allow shops to open on Easter Sunday, but not all have finalised their decisions on the issue. If your Council does not appear on the below list, you are not allowed to open your store, unless you meet the criteria for an exemption (see points 2-8 above). [Please email us with any updates, advocacy@retail.kiwi]

Councils that now allow shops to open in their districts on Easter Sunday Councils that have continued the ban on most shops opening on Easter Sunday* Councils currently considering the issue, but which have not yet made a decision
Central Otago
Far North
Kapiti Coast
New Plymouth
South Taranaki
South Wairarapa
Upper Hutt
Western Bay of Plenty
Central Hawke's Bay
Hutt City
Palmerston North

* Exemptions apply depending on location and kind of store - see (2) to (8) above.
South Waikato

Can I open my store on Good Friday?

Generally no. However, you can open if you are exempt from the trading ban and meet the criteria set out in (3) to (8) above.

Good Friday is a public holiday, so if your store is open or closed on this day, standard public holiday entitlements apply to all of your employees.

Can I open my store on Easter Monday?

Easter Monday is a public holiday - but any shop can open. Standard public holiday entitlements apply.

If I want to open on Easter Sunday, what do I need to do?

If you want an employee to work on Easter Sunday you must give written notice to that shop employee of their right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday. This notice must be given at least four weeks (but not more than eight weeks) before Easter Sunday. In 2018, this means that notice needs to be given between 4 February and 4 March 2018.)

Notice needs to be in the form of a letter or email (this could also be achieved by a group email). A template is available from our advisers, email us or call us on 0800 472 472 (1800 128 086 from Australia).

Under the Act, all shop employees have the right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday, and they don’t have to give you a reason for refusing. This rule overrides any existing requirements to work in the Employments Relations Act, or in the employee's employment contract. This applies to all shop employees working on Easter Sunday (including those where the businesses were previously allowed to open). If an employee declines work, there must not be any repercussions for them.

If an employee does not wish to work on Easter Sunday, the employee needs to give notice to the employer of the intention to refuse work. This must be given in writing (by email is okay) and must be delivered to the employer within 14 days.

Do I need to pay time and a half and give my employees a day in lieu if they work Easter Sunday?

Generally, no. Easter Sunday is not a public holiday, so there is no legal obligation to pay time and a half and/ or offer a day in lieu. Some employers do this anyway, as an act of good faith. It's also a good idea to check your individual employment contracts for any entitlements that may be over and above minimum entitlements.

If my store does not open, do I need to pay my employees?

No, not unless your employment agreement says you must. Generally, employees can take the day as annual leave if it is a normal working day for them, but some employers may choose to provide a paid day off.

Can anyone force me to open?

No, it's entirely your choice! Even if your local Council has permitted trading in your district, there is no obligation for you to open your store. Even if your store is located in a mall and your contract requires you to open when the mall is open, you are not legally required to open on Easter Sunday.

Dash it all, it's too complicated. What if I just open when I'm not allowed to?

If you open your shop when you are not allowed to, the "occupier" of the shop may be liable for a fine of up to $1,000. The occupier of a shop includes:

  • Any agent, manager, supervisor, person acting or apparently acting in control of the shop;
  • Any hawker or person who carries on business by selling goods, or offering goods for sale by retail, or delivering goods to a customer; otherwise than in a shop.

Need more help?

Please call us on 0800 472 272 (1800 128 086 from Australia) - or email us at adviser@retail.kiwi