Certain dates in a year are recognised as public holidays by the National Employment Standards, which apply across Australia. However, different laws across States and Territories also recognise additional days as public holidays.
Generally, employees are entitled to penalty rates for working on a public holiday. However, some awards and agreements may provide that employees can:
- Substitute the public holiday for a different day;
- Accumulate an additional day of annual leave; or
- Get time off in lieu
Employees can refuse to work on a public holiday if their refusal is reasonable, after considering various factors including the employee’s personal circumstances, the needs of the workplace, and how much notice the employee was given about working.
If full time and part-time employees choose not to work on a public holiday, they should be paid their base rate of pay for their ordinary hours.
Casual employees do not get paid for public holidays, unless they actually work on the day.
An employee’s roster cannot be changed to avoid paying their entitlements for a public holiday.
If an employee is on annual or personal leave when a public holiday falls, the day is treated as a public holiday and should not be taken off the employee’s annual leave or personal leave balance.
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