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Easter Hunt – how to plan for public holidays

Easter Hunt – how to plan for public holidays (Last Updated On: March 16, 2016)

Leave no surprises this Easter. Plan your public holidays with thought and precision to ensure no employment obligation is left hidden.

As usual, the Easter falls over the weekend, meaning there will be plenty of hospitality and retail workers entitled to penalty rates. Aside from putting higher hourly rates in the basket, there are a number of other things employers will need to consider for the upcoming Easter long weekend.

The dates

Fri 25 Mar         Good Friday          National

Sat 26 Mar        Easter Saturday    National (Except Tas & WA)

Sun 27 Mar       Easter Sunday      ACT, NSW & Vic

Mon 28 Mar      Easter Monday    National

Tues 29 Mar      Easter Tuesday   Tas


Overtime pay and reasonable hours of work

Some staff over the busy weekend may be taking on extra shifts to cover for those who are on annual leave or the workload simply influxes over the busy holiday and it is all hands on deck. An employer must not request or require a full-time employee to work more than 38 hours in a week, unless the additional hours are reasonable. Employers must consider their terms of employment. If the hours are more than 38, pending your Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement, the employee may be entitled to overtime pay.

For an employee who is not employed on a full-time basis, they must work less than 38 hours a week.

In determining what is and is not reasonable, the following factors must be taken into account:

  • whether the additional hours pose a threat to the employee’s health and safety
  • the employee’s personal circumstances, including any family responsibilities
  • whether the employee is entitled to overtime, penalty rates, or a level of remuneration as a result of working additional hours
  • the level of notice given by the employer to the employee if additional hours are required
  • the nature of the employee’s role and level of responsibility within the business
  • whether the additional hours are in accordance with the applicable Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement under the Fair Work Act

Penalty rates are the increased rate of pay for any overtime work or work performed on public holidays. Penalty rates vary depending on what Modern Awards apply to your business, but under most Modern Awards, casuals receive penalty rates which are calculated on their base rate of pay.

Full-time and part-time employees who would normally be at work on a public holiday, are entitled to have the day off and be paid their base hourly rate for their normal hours of work. Casual employees do not get paid for public holidays, unless they actually work that day. If a full-time or part-time employee is on annual leave or personal leave on the public holiday, then the day is treated as a public holiday and not as a paid leave day. This means the day should not be taken off their annual leave balance.


Breaks allow employees to take a short period of time to rest during their working shift.

Awards and enterprise agreements provide paid and unpaid rest breaks and include:

  • the length of the breaks
  • when breaks need to be taken
  • when breaks are paid or unpaid
  • some Awards and Enterprise Agreements may also include a provision for the amount of time which must pass in between the end of one shift and the beginning of the next


What should you do?

This Easter, please ensure you check for the provisions of Awards or agreements which apply to your business and employees, along with contracts of employment for any terms relevant to a public holiday.

If you have any questions, Employsure advisers are always available to help – even over the Easter public holidays.  To ensure you do not put all your eggs in one basket, call our 24-hour Advice Line now on 1300 651 415.

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