With regards to public holidays, businesses have the responsibility of getting it right.

Think about the following:

National public holidays

Under the National Employment Standards (NES), the following days are national public holidays:

  • 1 January (New Year’s Day)
  • 26 January (Australia Day)
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • 25 April (Anzac Day)
  • Queen’s birthday holiday (celebrated on different days for each State or Territory or a region of a State or Territory)
  • 25 December (Christmas Day)
  • 26 December (Boxing Day)
  • Any State or Territory (or a region of a State or Territory) specific public holidays.

Requests

Employers can ask their staff to work on public holidays if it is required, however, an employee can refuse the request if it considered unreasonable.

The Fair Work Commission (formerly known as Fair Work Australia), reminds businesses to decide if requests are reasonable by considering the following:

  • the nature and requirements of the working environment
  • personal circumstances of employees
  • whether the employee will get increased pay
  • employment status (casual, part-time, full-time, etc.)
  • the amount of notice is given by the employer
  • the notice an employee gives when declining to work on the public holiday
  • whether their salary is inclusive of work to be done on a public holiday
  • the kind of work

Pay on public holidays

The majority of employees are entitled to penalty rates for doing work on a public holiday, often set either by the award or enterprise agreement the employee is under. Some agreements and awards allow staff and employers to agree to substitute the public holiday for another day, get “time off in lieu”, or have an extra day added to their annual leave balance.

When a public holiday falls on a day or part-day an employee would usually work, businesses must pay the employee their base rate of pay for their ordinary hours of work.

Other considerations

Public holidays that fall on an employee’s paid leave do not get treated as annual leave; the day in question is regarded as a public holiday and the individual must be paid at least their base rate for that day.

*** This publication is for guidance only, and professional advice should be obtained before acting on any information contained herein. Neither the publishers nor the distributors can accept any responsibility for loss occasioned to any person as a result of action taken or refrained from in consequence of the contents of this publication. Publication date January 2018

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