On the fourth day of Christmas... I brushed up on working on my public holidays

Posted on 14 December 2011

What are the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees regarding working over public holidays? The Fairwork Ombudsman advises the following.

What are reasonable grounds for requesting or refusing to work on a public holiday?

In determining whether a request (or a refusal of such a request) to work on a public holiday is reasonable, the following must be taken into account:

  • the nature of the employer’s workplace (including its operational requirements) and the nature of the work performed by the employee
  • the employee’s personal circumstances, including family responsibilities
  • whether the employee could reasonably expect that the employer might request work on the public holiday
  • whether the employee is entitled to receive overtime payments, penalty rates, additional remuneration or other compensation that reflects an expectation of work on the public holiday
  • the type of employment (e.g. full-time, part-time, casual or shiftwork)
  • the amount of notice in advance of the public holiday given by the employer when making the request
  • the amount of notice in advance of the public holiday given by the employee in refusing the request
  • any other relevant matter.

What payment is required for an absence from work due to a public holiday?

If an employee is absent from work on a day or part-day that is a public holiday, the employer must pay the employee (other than a casual employee) the base rate of pay for the employee’s ordinary hours of work on that day or part-day. The base rate of pay to be paid excludes incentive-based payments and bonuses, loadings, monetary allowances, overtime or penalty rates, or any other separately identifiable amounts.

However, an employee is not entitled to payment if they do not have ordinary hours of work on the public holiday.

For example, a part-time employee is not entitled to payment if their part-time hours do not include the day of the week on which the public holiday falls. 

Back