Working on public holidays

Employees get paid at least their base pay rate for all hours worked on a public holiday.

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements can provide entitlements for working public holidays, including:

  • extra pay (eg. public holiday rates)

  • an extra day off or extra annual leave

  • minimum shift lengths on public holidays

  • agreeing to substitute a public holiday for another day.

Requesting and refusing to work on public holidays

Employees don't have to work on a public holiday.

However, an employer can ask an employee to work on a public holiday, if the request is reasonable. An employee may refuse a request to work if they have reasonable grounds.

The following need to be taken into account when deciding if a request is reasonable:

  • the employee's personal circumstances, (eg. family responsibilities)

  • whether the employee will get more pay (eg. penalty rates)

  • the needs of the workplace

  • the type of work the employee does

  • whether the employee's salary includes work on a public holiday

  • whether the employee is full-time, part-time, casual or a shiftworker

  • how much notice the employee was given about working

  • the amount of notice the employee gives that they refuse to work.

When requesting that an employee work on a public holiday, employers need to consider all relevant circumstances, including the ones listed above.

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