March 2, 2022   |   Compliance

Do you know your employees’ entitlements on public holidays?

We get through the Christmas break and have a well-earnt rest…then boom, more public holidays are upon us and Easter is just around the corner.

As an employer, it’s hard to keep track of all the employer obligations when it comes to the treatment of public holidays.

While it depends on your company’s workforce and the industrial instruments that apply, we have put together five questions to consider when it comes to public holidays and your workforce:


1. When are the public holidays?

In Australia, there are national public holidays like Christmas Day, Australia Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday and then there is an array of state, regional and territory public holidays like the Queen’s Birthday and Labor Day.  

The best way to keep track of the public holidays in your state or territory is to look on the Fair Work website or the applicable State or Territory Government website


2. Do I have to pay employees if they do not work on a public holiday? 

The entitlement to public holidays forms part of the National Employment Standards (NES). Under the NES, full and part-time employees are paid their base pay rate for the ordinary hours they would have worked had it not been for the public holiday. If the part-time employees’ regular hours do not include the day the public holiday falls on, they are not entitled to payment. Casual employees are not paid for public holidays unless they work on the public holiday. 

Some Modern Awards have different rules regarding public holidays, especially in hospitality. Information is available on Fair Work – Penalty.

3. Can I request my employees work on a public holiday? 

Employees can be absent and paid for their ordinary work hours on public holidays, for example, a full-time and part-time employee scheduled to work the public holiday. More information on this is shared in the next section.

Employers can reasonably request employees to work on a public holiday. There are a few factors to take into consideration when determining what is reasonable. For example, it may be considered reasonable if the employer asks an employee to work on a public holiday if the business is open and the employee has had reasonable notice. 

Employees can refuse a request to work on a public holiday, if reasonable to do so.

The entitlement to public holidays forms part of the National Employment Standards (NES)


4. Are employees entitled to penalty/public holiday rates? 

As a minimum under the (NES);

  • Full and part-time employees are entitled to be paid their base rate for the ordinary hours they would have worked, had it not been for the public holiday.
  • Part-time employees whose regular hours do not include the day of the public holiday are not entitled to payment.
  • Casual employees are not paid for public holidays unless they work on the public holiday. 

However, please note some Modern Awards have different rules regarding the treatment of public holidays. Plus, it is important to take into consideration any applicable rules within enterprise agreements or other industrial instruments covering your workforce.


5. Do public holidays impact personal leave and annual leave?  

If a public holiday falls on an employee’s annual leave day or paid personal leave day, the employee is paid for the public holiday. It does not impact or reduce their accrued annual or personal leave balance. For example, if an employee is on leave from Monday to Friday (and they are scheduled to work all those days) and the Monday is a public holiday, the employee would only consume four days of leave.

It is important to note that this only applies to periods of paid leave (i.e., not available to employees on a period of unpaid leave). Minimum annual and personal leave entitlements are stipulated under the National Employment Standards (NES) for full and part-time employees.    


Main takeaways: 


Disclaimer 
The information provided in this article is general information, not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Definitiv does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this article.