Last week the Queensland Government passed a new law (the “Holidays and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019“) which will make Christmas Eve a part-day public holiday for six hours between 6pm and midnight. This follows similar moves by South Australia and the Northern Territory.

As with other public holidays, the effect on workplaces will mean that: (a) employees will not be able to be required to work unless the requirement is reasonable; and (b) if employees are covered by a modern award, they are likely to be entitled to significant penalty rates (some awards provide for a rate of double-time-and-a-half for hours worked on a public holiday.) See our guidance note on public holidays here.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said in relation to public consultation on the new law:

“Many workers told of the ever-growing importance of Christmas Eve as a special time for family and friends. They told us it was a time to come together and celebrate the season and they should be properly compensated for those who were required to work. The Palaszczuk Government strongly agrees with them. Christmas Eve should be spent with loved ones, but if you have to work there should be appropriate pay. Making it a public holiday gives those who have to work, like essential services personnel, retail staff and shop employees, better pay for having to give up that family time.”

See the Government’s full media statement here.

Need more help?

If you require further assistance in understanding your obligations to staff regarding public holidays (including whether employees are entitled to be absent from work and what they should be paid if they do / do not work) please contact Employment Innovations on 1300 144 120 or by email

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