When the Labour Party's Mondayisation bill was passed into law in 2013, Monday-to-Friday-ers celebrated en masse.

Everyone loves having more time to spend with family and friends and it also provided the space to contemplate the significance of our two most important national days, Waitangi Day and Anzac Day.

But not everyone was happy. Many hospitality and shift workers and those in healthcare and service industries missed out. People who work outside the nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday norm, and who are rostered to have Mondays off, missed out. Those who have Mondays off every week never get to spend three days with their family.

Monday holidays occur four times a year — Queen's Birthday, local anniversary days, Easter Monday and Labour Day. If Waitangi Day and Anzac Day fall on a weekend or a Monday, those rostered to have Mondays off miss out on six long weekends a year. If taken over five years, that's a month of holidays.


Our society still caters to the Monday to Friday working week even though that paradigm has long passed. We live in a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day work environment and many of us aren't lucky enough to have Saturdays and Sundays off every week.

But Gerard Clark, manager for employment standards policy at MBIE, says: "There is no statutory requirement for employers to provide those employees whose working patterns do not include Mondays with alternative days of paid leave for any public holidays that fall on Mondays."

He says many employers do offer more than the statutory minimum holidays, but this is on a case-by-case basis.

Sam Jones is the industry coordinator for public and commercial services with the E tū union. He says he sees many people missing out on much-needed breaks due to a loophole in the law.

"When they were taking submissions for the Mondayisation bill, there was very little representation from shift workers and others who have Mondays off. I'm sure it was an oversight but it's left many people in a difficult situation."

Jones says people who have Mondays rostered off are already penalised as they are not able to spend two days with family.

"Kids' sports are on the weekends, society is oriented towards Saturdays and Sundays off. So, people who are working over the weekend are already at a disadvantage. Then they are losing out on a significant amount of holidays due to a loophole in the employment law."

Clark says the purpose of Mondayisation was for people to recognise days of significance collectively.


"Providing employees who would normally work these days with a paid day off allows them to spend time with friends or family to mark these days in the way they deem most appropriate."

And though there is a growing number of people who don't have the traditional Saturday and Sunday weekend, the issue isn't on anyone's radar at the moment.

This may change, however. Clark says this is one of the issues which a taskforce set up to review the Holidays Act may consider.

"The taskforce expects to make its recommendations to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety in mid 2020."

This taskforce was formed in May last year, and has worker, employer and government representatives. It was commissioned after a request from unions and employers for a review of the Holidays Act, and is chaired by Victoria University law professor Gordon Anderson.

But legislative change takes time. Jones says the best action for people who are concerned about their working situation with regard to their rostered days is to join with others and make their concerns heard.

"It's hard for one person to bargain on issues such as this, but collective action has much more impact."

He acknowledges that many in the hospitality industry (especially those who work in bars, cafes or restaurants) don't have a large team to back them. But he says the union is looking at ways to offer other means of support to such employees.

"We are looking at ways in which we can spearhead a movement that looks at establishing basic standards for those working in bars and restaurants in the hospitality industry," he says.

Jones and others in the union have worked successfully with employers to get more leave entitlements for those rostered to work on Mondays.

"This usually involves changing the entitlement to another day of the week," he says.

He recommends people talk with their employers and see if they can work something out. Otherwise he suggests that people start grass-roots movements in their areas to get some action on the matter.

"The four-week leave entitlement and the Mondayisation of Waitangi Day and Labour Day were all due to collective action being taken by working people and by widespread acceptance of it in workplaces. It was then enmeshed in law. For things to change people need to take action and spread the word. Once people know about a situation that is problematic, they more they are likely to support change."