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Paying Employees During Easter

Published April 04, 2022 (last updated April 29, 2022) -

Public holidays allow Australians a chance to put down tools and celebrate a religious or cultural event, or just to relax. Many employees in Australia will do just that over the coming Easter weekend, and on Anzac Day.

You will most likely still need to pay your permanent employees that would normally work on the designated public holiday. However, generally you don’t have to pay them public holiday penalty rates – in most cases you just pay their base rate of pay for the ordinary hours they usually would have worked on that day, unless the applicable award, registered agreement or their employment contract says otherwise. In some cases, you will also have to pay employees, even when they are not rostered on a public holiday. To know for sure, you will have to check the Award or Enterprise Agreement applicable.

If you run a café, or operate in the tourism industry, a public holiday may be your busiest time of year, and you might need all hands on deck.

Asking Employees to Work on Public Holidays

If your request is reasonable, you can ask an employee to work on a public holiday. The employee can only refuse if the refusal is reasonable or if your request is unreasonable. To determine what is reasonable, you need to consider:

  • The employee’s personal circumstances, e.g. family responsibilities
  • Whether they will get more pay, e.g. penalty rates or a higher rate that reflects the expectation of working public holidays
  • The needs of the business
  • The type of work they do
  • Whether their salary includes public holiday work
  • Whether they are full-time, part-time, casual or shift worker
  • The amount of notice you gave them about working
  • The amount of notice they gave you about not working

Roster your employees easily and quickly from your PC, tablet or phone with BrightHR. Find out more here.

Sort Your Shifts Out with BrightHR

It’s one of the most important parts of your job, but creating a roster can take hours to do – more than it should. Now with BrightHR, you can create rosters in a matter of minutes.

You can publish, share and modify employee rosters directly from our shift planning software. Your teams will receive an instant notification when a roster is published, via the BrightHR mobile app.

BrightHR also provides one clear view of staff and shifts, and one central source for all your rosters, which you and your employees can view, anytime, anywhere.

BrightHR allows you to:

  • Create digital rosters, so everyone knows when they’re working
  • Add shifts for employees with varying times
  • Generate multiple rosters for different teams
  • Avoid under or over staffing
  • Build and review rosters in draft format before publishing
  • Share rosters instantly with applicable staff
  • Avoid complex or confusing rosters with our clear and simple format
  • Amend and update rosters whilst on the move

Penalty Rates

If employees are working on a public holiday, they may be entitled to public holiday penalty rates. These rates are often much higher than the normal rate of pay.

Modern Awards, Enterprise Agreements or other registered agreements or contracts applicable to your business and the employee will set out the employee entitlements when they work a public holiday.

For example, in the Hospitality Award, the public holiday penalty rate for employees working on a public holiday is 225% for permanent employees. The penalty rate is influenced by the Industrial Instrument, Enterprise Agreement or contractual rate agreed upon, not necessarily the EEs role and the hours worked. 

Misconception: ‘I already pay above Award rates, so I’m already covered for penalty rates’

It’s great that you pay above the Award rate, but it doesn’t automatically exempt you from paying penalty rates. You still have to pay the applicable public holiday rates for an employee who is working a public holiday, but you may be able to pay the employee a higher rate of pay to off-set a certain amount of public holidays, depending on the provisions in the applicable industrial instrument and their employment contract.

Easter Weekend: What to Pay?

States may have different regulations in regard to public holidays which fall on a weekend. In some states, a public holiday is scheduled on the following Monday, in lieu of, or in addition to, the public holiday that fell on the previous Saturday or a Sunday. Generally, if a designated public holiday falls on a weekend, then employees should be paid public holiday rates if they work that day.

So, in South Australia for example, an employee should be paid public holiday rates on Easter Saturday, but Sunday penalty rates on Easter Sunday, as Saturday is a designated public holiday while Sunday is not.

Easter Holidays 2022

Ticked cells indicate which days are public holidays in the respective state or territory.

 2022 dateNSWVicQLDAct
Good FridayFriday 15 April    
Easter Saturday*Saturday 16 April  
Easter SundaySunday 17 April   
Easter MondayMonday 18 April 
Easter TuesdayTuesday 19 April    
ANZAC Day**Sunday 25 April
 2022 dateSAWATasNT
Good FridayFriday 15 April        
Easter Saturday*Saturday 16 April        
Easter SundaySunday 17 April        
Easter MondayMonday 18 April        
Easter TuesdayTuesday 19 April     
ANZAC Day**Sunday 25 April        

*Easter Saturday is known as Saturday before Easter Sunday in Victoria, and The day after Good Friday in Queensland.

**All States and Territories except NSW, Victoria and Tasmania will have a public holiday falling on Sunday 25 April as ANZAC Day.

Download our Guide on Public Holidays

Learn more about how you can manage your staff during public holidays with this FREE guide.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of Australia’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 25,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.


This blog has been compiled on the basis of general information current at the time of publication. Changes in circumstances after publication may affect the completeness or accuracy of this information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, we disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions contained in this information or any failure to update or correct this information. It is your responsibility to assess and verify the accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability of the information on this website, and to seek professional advice where necessary. Nothing contained on this website is to be interpreted as a recommendation to use any product, process or formulation or any information on this website. For clarity, Employsure does not recommend any material, products or services of any third parties. 

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