Festive season public holidays 2015/2016


As Boxing Day falls on a Saturday this year, some states have declared an additional day as a public holiday.

– In Vic, ACT, NSW, WA and Qld: Monday 28 December is a public holiday as well as December 26.

 -In SA and Tas: December 26 is not a public holiday and Monday 28 December is a public holiday instead.

SA also has extra public holidays from 7:00 pm to midnight on both Xmas Eve and New Years Eve.

Employers are advised to check the list of public holidays carefully – visit the Fair Work Ombudsman  

You can also read about the substitution of public holidays by agreement 

The Pastoral Award 2010 (clause 26.2(b)) allows employers and employees to agree to the employee taking another day as a public holiday instead.

Entitlements for working on a public holiday

If your business operates on a public holiday, employees who are covered by the Pastoral Award 2010 must be paid penalty rates if they work on that day. 

Under the Pastoral Award 2010, award employees are entitled to penalty rates if they work on a public holiday. Non award employees (managers) are not entitled to penalty rates for work on public holidays.

Read more about public holiday pay rates (inc casual rates)

Entitlements for not working on a public holiday

The National Employment Standards provide for employees who do not attend work on public holidays to receive the base rate of pay they would have received for ordinary hours of work as follows:

  • Full-time employees are entitled to a paid day off for public holidays. 
  • Part-time employees are entitled to be paid for the hours they would normally work on public holidays. If they do not normally work on the day of the public holiday they are not entitled to pay. 
  • Casual employees are not entitled to pay for public holidays unless they are rostered for work on that day. 

Can I require my employees to work on a public holiday?

You can request an employee to work on a public holiday, as long as the request is ‘reasonable’. An employee can refuse your request if the request is not reasonable or if the refusal is reasonable. To decide whether a request or refusal is ‘reasonable’, you need to consider a number of things including:

  • the nature of the business and its operational requirements
  • the employees’ personal circumstances, including family responsibilities
  • the employee’s expectations about a requirement to work on the public holiday
  • whether the employee is entitled to penalty rates or other compensation for working on the public holiday
  • employee status (whether they’re full-time, part-time, casual or work shiftwork)
  • the amount of notice you gave them when asking them to work on the public holiday
  • the amount of notice given by the employee if they do not want to work on the public holiday.

At Christmas, there are often competing priorities between business needs and personal circumstances. It is important for employees and employers to remember this and talk openly and respectfully to resolve any problems.