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Melbourne Cup – Challenges for employers.

Melbourne Cup – Challenges for employers.

Only in Victoria is Melbourne Cup a public holiday. In all other States and Territories, the celebration is simply another ordinary working day. However, the race that stops the nation naturally halts many workplaces, where varying degrees of celebration and festivity are a common part of workplace culture.

Melbourne Cup always brings an influx of calls to our advice line with employers in Victoria unsure of their obligations to staff, and in other States, employers have the task of managing potential sickies on race day.

Can an employee be asked to work on the Melbourne Cup public holiday?

The obligation to work on public holidays at the request of an employer is set out in the employment contract, underpinned by either the relevant industrial instrument or the Fair Work Act 2009.

Public holidays are defined by the relevant State or Territory. Melbourne Cup day is only a public holiday in Victoria – it is an ordinary day in all other States and Territories.

An employee may be requested to work on a public holiday if the request is reasonable. In determining whether the request is reasonable, employers should consider the nature and needs of the business, the employee’s personal circumstances, whether the request is expected, whether the employee is to be paid higher rates, the nature of the industry and the length of notice given.

What are some tips to effectively manage Cup Day and related unplanned absences?

The most important aspect of managing employee absences on or after Cup Day is ensuring that the rules are understood from the outset. The following tips will assist you to manage any unplanned absences at this time.

  1. Ensure that clear policies are in place upfront and that these are communicated to staff – including those relating to work on public holidays, notice of sick leave absences and the evidence that is required to support such absences.
  2. Inform staff in advance of the sick leave policy, including the requirement that they provide a medical certificate as evidence in relation to any absences on Cup Day or the following day.
  3. Where staff are required to work on Cup Day, inform them of this requirement well in advance.
  4. Absences that are not accompanied by sufficient evidence may be deemed as leave without pay, subject to disciplinary measures or both.

Employsure is on hand, 24/7, to assist in matters such as this by advising on the correct way to manage a situation and, if required, the appropriate disciplinary steps to take and action to carry out.

For assistance on tackling workplace issues, contact Employsure on 1300 651 415 today.

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