Under the National Employment Standards, employees are entitled to be absent from work without loss of pay on a public holiday. However, an employer may ask an employee to work on a public holiday if the request is reasonable.
In determining whether the request is reasonable the following factors must be considered:
- the nature of the workplace and operational requirements and the nature of the work performed by the employee;
- the employee’s personal circumstances, including family responsibilities;
- whether the employee reasonably could expect that the employer might request them to work on a public holiday;
- whether the employee is entitled to overtime, penalty rates, other compensation or a level of remuneration that reflects the expectation of working on a public holiday;
- the employee’s type of employment (full-time, part-time, casual or shiftwork);
- the amount of advance notice given by the employer when making the request;
- the amount of notice in advance of the public holiday given by the employee when refusing the request; and
- any other relevant matter.
However, if an employee’s ordinary hours of work require the employee to work on a public holiday and the employee refuses to work, the employee may be subject to disciplinary action.
Employees working on a public holiday are entitled to penalty rates in accordance with the relevant Modern Award or enterprise agreement.
A permanent full-time or part-time employee absent from work on a day that is a public holiday on which the employee would have worked had the day not been a public holiday is entitled to be paid at the base rate of pay for the employee’s ordinary hours of work. On the other hand, a permanent part-time employee whose part-time hours do not include the day of the week on which there is a public holiday is not entitled to be paid.
If a public holiday falls on an employee’s annual leave day, the day will be paid for as a public holiday; however, if a public holiday falls on a day taken as long service leave, public holiday pay will not apply.