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What You Need To Know About Public Holidays

Published December 05, 2014 (last updated September 15, 2023) - Face2Face Field Service Manager
What you need to know about public holidays: Employsure image.

During the holiday season, a lot of our clients call about employee entitlements to public holidays. Can you expect your employees to work a public holiday, what rates must they be paid and what can you do about RDOs and time off in lieu? Find the answers here…

What days are recognised as public holidays?

You can check the list of public holidays in your state on this page.

Can I ask my employees to work on a public holiday?

Yes, you can ask an employee to work provided the request is reasonable, keeping in mind that employees are entitled to be absent from work on a public holiday.

Whether it is reasonable for the employee to work will depend on all the circumstances, including:

  • the operational requirements of the business and the nature of the employee’s work;
  • the employee’s personal circumstances, including family responsibilities;
  • whether the employee would expect to be asked to work;
  • what remuneration they will get; and
  • the amount of notice they are given.

Employees can refuse a request to work on a public holiday if the request is unreasonable. They can also refuse if they have justifiable reasons to do so.

Forward planning can help sidestep issues around public holidays. If required, confirm in your contracts that you may require the employee to work on public holidays and give them as much notice as possible.

Do I have to pay an employee who does not work on a public holiday?

All employees, other than casuals, who are entitled to be absent from work will also be entitled to be paid at their base rate of pay for their ordinary hours of work on that day. This means, for example, that part-time employees will only be entitled for public holidays which occur on a day they would normally work.

What do I have to pay employees who work on public holidays?

The relevant penalty rate will be set by the award (or enterprise agreement) which covers your business and employees. Normally, this is double time and a half for permanent employees (with different rates for casual and shift workers). Check the award (or enterprise agreement) and which covers your business and employees and your employment contracts for specific provisions.

What if an employee’s Rostered Day Off falls on a public holiday?

Usually, awards will make provision for the employee to take substitute day off (or may allow the employer to pay the RDO in addition to the public holiday pay). Check the award (or enterprise agreement) which covers your business and employees and your employment contracts for specific provisions.

Getting the basics right is important to ensure peace of mind when managing staff around the holidays. Still confused? Our advice team can help with questions around leave and wage rate enquiries. Give Employsure a call on 1300 651 415 for advice.

About Employsure

Employsure is Australia’s largest workplace relations specialists. We take the complexity out of workplace laws to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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