RDOs, OWDs and Public Holidays: The Good Bosses' Guide | Blog | PaySauce

RDOs, OWDs & Public Holidays: The Good Bosses' Guide

by Laura Marwick

We all know how to pay out public holidays when staff are working or enjoying an extra day off.

It's pretty cut and dried: time and a half and a day in lieu if it's a normal day at work, Public holiday taken (or stat day) if they're away. Piece of cake if you run a predictable, Monday-Friday kind of business.

For some unlucky workers, a public holiday will fall on a rostered day off (RDO). If it's obviously a day that they wouldn't ordinarily work, employers can just treat it as a plain old unpaid day off. Again, no worries...as long as you have a clear, consistent roster.

But in an unconventional industry like hort, hospo or services, you could be dealing with variable work schedules. Swapping shifts, irregular rosters and weather-dependent work can confuse what's an RDO and what's an "otherwise working day".

The Holidays Act itself gives employees "an entitlement to 11 public holidays if the holidays fall on days that would otherwise be working days for the employee". So the mission is to determine what is and isn't an otherwise working day (OWD).


MBIE does have guidelines for these situations, but they're pretty loose. Where it's unclear, employers and employees should try to reach an agreement. To reach that agreement, they should consider:

You need to take all those things into account, and you can't base your decision on just one.

With all those factors in the mix, it's tough to say exactly what you should do without knowing all the particulars.

So let's go over what you can and can't do.


When some public holidays fall on a weekend, they're moved out to the following Monday (or even Tuesday). This is called Mondayisation. When this happens, all the standard public holiday rules apply to the Monday (or Tuesday).

Holidays that can be "Mondayised": the ones that aren't tied to a specific day of the week - ANZAC Day, Waitangi Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day or the day after New Year’s Day. If any of these fall within a weekend, they'll be shifted out.

This is another rule that favours 9-5, Monday-Friday businesses by creating a “long weekend”. And once again, if your people have variable schedules or usually work weekends, it gets a bit tricky. As the MBIE website says, “Mondayisation only happens if the employee doesn’t normally work on the calendar date of the holiday” (ie if they work Monday-Friday).

If it seems like Mondayisation is a bit unfair to your employee because their "weekend" is during the week, then you can always agree to transfer the public holiday to another day. As long as you're trying to make things fairer, and not trying to avoid paying public holiday benefits, a transfer is all good.

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Posted on 18 July 2019

Laura Marwick
Marketing Communications & Engagement Manager

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