The Employment Relations Authority has determined that firefighters working overtime on a public holiday must be paid 1.5 times the overtime rate as the overtime rate is the relevant daily pay.

Currently the collective agreement specifically sets out overtime rate tables for firefighters which has the firefighter receiving the same pay for overtime hours on a public holiday that they would receive if the overtime was worked on a day that was not a public holiday. The overtime rates changed over time and are currently at T1.5.

The NZPFU filed a dispute last year with legal arguments heard by the Employment Relations Authority on 24 March 2022 and today the decision was released.

The NZPFU claimed that the correct method of calculation was to determine the relevant daily pay was the overtime rate as the employee was to be paid that rate for those hours and then to apply the public holiday payment of 1.5 that would result in a total of T2.25 being paid for the hours worked on a public holiday.

FENZ relied on the events when the current pay structure was developed in 2013 with a transition to overtime rates of 1.5 and a Record of Agreement that records the 1.5 rate would be the rate regardless of when the overtime was worked. Essentially FENZ was claiming that the overtime rate of 1.5 already included the public holiday rate when overtime was worked on a public holiday.

The Authority determined that the Holidays Act applied and that the proper approach was the methodology of determining the relevant daily pay (which is the amount of pay the employee would have actually received if s/he had worked that day) which is the overtime rate and then apply the Public Holiday rate to that rate.  The Authority stated that that approach was the correct approach despite what was agreed in 2013.

The Authority’s decision would now need to be applied to each affected employee over the relevant period to determine the appropriate payment for the hours worked on each of the relevant public holidays and to pay the affected employees any outstanding amount.

The NZPFU will keep members informed.

A copy of the decision is attached.

In unity
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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