Technical advice: Opening vet clinics on Easter Sunday

4 April 2022

Technical advice is our interpretation of how professional standards apply in a particular situation. It is designed to help veterinarians deal with common issues in practice, using their professional judgement to apply the advice to their own situation. It represents our best efforts at the time of publication but standards and expectations change over time and particular care should be used when reading old advice.

Can veterinary clinics be open on Easter Sunday?

Easter Sunday is not a public holiday but it is a “restricted trading day” under the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990.

On restricted trading days (Christmas Day, Good Friday, ANZAC Day until 1pm and Easter Sunday), almost all shops must be closed.

Are veterinary clinics shops?

A “shop” means a place where good are kept, sold or offered for retail sale. It does not include services rather than selling goods, such as hairdressers or real estate agents, as long as they don’t sell any goods on the restricted trading days.

Veterinary care is a service and using goods, such as veterinary medicines, as part of veterinary care and treatment (including providing medicines for the client to take home) would not breach the restricted trading day rules.

However, many clinics operate a retail part of their business by selling products, such as animal food. Operating the retail part of the clinic would breach the restricted trading days rules because it involves selling goods. Clinics therefore should close this part of their business if they choose to operate on a restricted trading day, and should close off entry to that part of the clinic, if possible.

Do staff have to work if the clinic decides to open?

No. Employees have a right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday and do not have to give a reason for refusing to work. Employers cannot treat employees adversely if they choose not to work on Easter Sunday.

If an employer wants a staff member to work on Easter Sunday, both there is a process to follow and both the employer and employee have rights and responsibilities. More information can be found on this Employment New Zealand page.

Easter Sunday is not a public holiday so employees who work generally receive their normal pay and do not get an alternative holiday.

Some areas have exceptions

Councils can have policies that allow shops to trade on Easter Sunday. MBIE keeps a list of all such policies.