Employees covered by the national system are generally entitled to take public holidays off work in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The eight recognised public holidays for 2015 are:

  • New Years Day – 1 January 2015;
  • Australia Day – 26 January 2015;
  • Good Friday – 3 April 2015;
  • Easter Monday – 6 April 2015;
  • Anzac Day – 25 April 2015;
  • Queen’s Birthday – 8 June 2015;
  • Christmas Day – 25 December 2015; and
  • Boxing Day – 26 December 2015.

There are also public holidays prescribed by the relevant State and Territory legislation.  In 2015 on the Gold Coast, we also have the Gold Coast Show Day on 28 August 2015 and Labour Day on 5 October 2015.

Does an employee have to work on a public holiday?

A question commonly asked by employers/employees alike, is whether an employer can request that an employee work on a public holiday, and whether the employee can refuse that request.

An employer can make a reasonable request that an employee work on a public holiday, even if an employee is entitled to take the day off. However, the employee can refuse to work on reasonable grounds being provided.

To determine what is ‘reasonable’, you would need to consider many factors including:

–          How much notice was provided to the employee in respect of the request to work on the public holiday and how much notice the employee has given back when reusing the request to work;

–          The employees position (full-time, part-time, casual, shiftworker) and whether they are entitled to additional benefits;

–          The businesses needs and whether the work is really needing to be performed on a public holiday; and

–          The employee’s personal situation (including family responsibilities).

What should an employee get paid on a public holiday?

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) prescribes that an employee who is entitled to have the day off on a public holiday must be paid for their ordinary hours of work for that day at their base rate of pay.    However, this does not apply to casual employees who were not required to work on the public holiday under the roster.

It is important to be aware that a particular award or agreement may stipulate that additional benefits should be provided to employees, such as: extra pay or time off, another day to be provided in lieu of the public holiday or a minimum shift length.

Public Holiday during employee’s leave

If the employee is on leave at the time a public holiday occurs, then depending on whether that employee’s leave is paid or unpaid, the employer may be required to either:

– pay the employee for the public holiday (and not deduct the day off the employee’s annual leave); or alternatively

– not pay them for the public holiday if they are on a period of unpaid leave.

Whether you are an employer or an employee, should you have any queries about public holidays, leave entitlements or any other employment law queries, please contact one of our friendly, experienced Gold Coast lawyers at Affinity Lawyers today on 5563 8970 to arrange a consultation to discuss same at your convenience.