Business Guide for Working on a Public Holiday 2024

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TRADING DURING PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

Not all businesses may have the permissions to operate during the holiday period. Employers must ensure their business falls under relevant industries, or obtain explicit permission and exemption.

SHUTDOWN PERIODS

Common Questions

Fair Work resources

Working across different regions

Public holidays during other leave

REQUESTING EMPLOYEES WORK ON PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

Employers are permitted to request employees work on public holidays, so long as the request is fair. It is essential to know your obligations before making a request for your team to work during the holiday period.

PENALITY RATES & REGIONAL PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

Throughout this guide, we will discuss how Modern Awards can impact your specific situation.

Modern awards cover different employment regulations such as pay, hours, leave, and other job conditions. They are regularly reviewed and updated to align with changes in the economy, work practices, and community standards. To learn more about your Modern Award, view out our expert summaries, including:

SCHADS Award
Restaurant Industry Award Summary
Hospitality Industry Award Summary
Retail Industry Award Summary
Clerks – Private Sector Award Summary
Professional Employees Award Summary
View all Award Summaries

If you are unsure which Award covers your business, or don’t see your relevant Award, contact our team.

Section 1

Public holidays in Australia

Public holidays can vary in scope, encompassing national, state-wide, or specific regional practice. While the major public holidays are generally shared across all Australian states and territories, variations exist in the specific holidays observed and their timings. Within this guide, our experts have compiled a list of 2024 Public Holidays and explore their potential implications for your business.

If you’re a business owner and need help understanding anything specific about public holidays or other aspects of your business, our experts are here for you. Reach out to our team, and we’ll provide specific advice for your situation, whether it’s about regulations, managing your team, or any other uncertainty about your compliance obligations.

Can you trade on a public holiday?

If you choose to operate your business on a public holiday, it’s crucial to confirm that your commercial activities comply with trading regulations. Certain public holidays, as designated by state and territory governments, are considered restricted trading days. 

On these days, only specific businesses are permitted to operate unless they have obtained an exemption. If you wish to seek clarification on these matters regarding your business, you must reach out to your state or territory government regarding the regulations for trading on public holidays.

If your business is permitted to trade on public holidays, employees typically are not obligated to work on those days. For permanent employees scheduled to work on a day that coincides with a public holiday, they have the right to be absent from work on that public holiday. In such cases, they should receive payment at their base rate of pay for the regular hours they would have worked on that day. 

However, if there’s a reasonable need for these employees to work on the public holiday, you may request their presence. It’s important to note that employees have the right to refuse such a request if it is deemed unreasonable.

Section 2

Can you request an employee to work on public holidays?

Certain industries, such as hospitality, often require employees to work on public holidays, with many restaurants remaining open during these times. If you need to ask employees to work on a public holiday, it’s essential that your request is reasonable and has a valid justification.

Section 2

Can you request an employee to work on public holidays?

Certain industries, such as hospitality, often require employees to work on public holidays, with many restaurants remaining open during these times. If you need to ask employees to work on a public holiday, it’s essential that your request is reasonable and has a valid justification.

Employees have the right to refuse the request if they deem it unreasonable. Before making such a request, consider factors like the employee’s personal circumstances (such as family responsibilities), their role in the organisation, and the operational needs of the workplace. It’s advisable to communicate early in the employment relationship that working on public holidays may be required, establishing clear expectations through a policy outlining the business’s operation on such days.

As an employer in an industry where employees are required to work on public holidays, you might discover that certain awards and agreements permit the substitution of the designated public holiday for another day. Additionally, these arrangements may offer extra entitlements to employees. Some of these entitlements include:

  • Extra pay ( example: public holiday rates);
  • Minimum shift lengths on public holidays; or
  • An extra day off or extra annual leave.

It is important to remember that employees have the right to be absent from work on a day or part-day that is a public holiday. Employees are protected from adverse action for reasonably refusing to work on a public holiday. For more information on holiday regulations, our experts have written a comprehensive article surrounding common questions on compliance obligations during the holidays.

Section 3

Closing down over holiday periods: shutdowns

shut down period is a specific period of time that the whole or part of a business stops operating. Award-covered employees can only be directed to take annual leave during a shutdown period where the award specifically provides for this and the employees are given the applicable notice period set out in the award. Award-free employees can be directed to take annual leave during a shutdown period where it is reasonable to do so. Neither award-covered employees or award-free employees can be directed to take leave without pay if they don’t have sufficient leave to cover the shutdown period, this can only be done with the employee’s agreement.

Section 3

Closing down over public holiday periods: shutdown period

A shut down period is a specific period of time that the whole or part of a business stops operating. Opting to shut down your business during a public holiday period, a choice commonly made during the Christmas/New Year’s period, allows you the option to instruct your employees to take either paid or unpaid leave for the days they would typically work during the shutdown. It’s crucial to adhere to any notice provisions outlined in a Modern Award, enterprise agreement, or applicable contract during this process.

Resources for Fair Work public holidays

Public holidays are part of the National Employment Standards (NES). The NES apply to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system, regardless of any award, registered agreement or employment contract.

If you are looking for more information on calculating public holiday rates, and entitlements, Fair Work provides two helpful links for Public holiday penalty rates and Pay and Conditions Tool

 

Are there impacts if an employee works outside of their state or region on a public holiday?

An employee is entitled to the public holidays that fall where they are based for work, not where they are working on the day of the public holiday.

 

Public holidays during other leave

If an employee takes annual or sick leave, they remain entitled to payment for public holidays. Importantly, this payment does not deduct from the employee’s leave balance. However, it is necessary for the public holiday to occur on a day that the employee would typically work. If you’re looking for more information, our experts have written extensively on the subject of leave entitlements.

Section 4

Penalty rates

Penalty rates are higher pay rates applied to employees who perform work on the weekend. These rates are dependent on the Modern Award or Awards, your business falls under. The purpose of weekend and holiday pay rates is to provide compensation for employees who work outside of hours that are considered “normal”.

Section 4

Penalty rates

Penalty rates are higher pay rates applied to employees who perform work on the weekend. These rates are dependent on the Modern Award or Awards, your business falls under. The purpose of weekend and holiday pay rates is to provide compensation for employees who work outside of hours that are considered “normal”.

Modern Awards will dictate the penalty rate for the employees working on public holidays in your business. If an employee does not work a public holiday, and regardless of whether they are working full-time or part-time, they have the right to receive their regular hourly wage for ordinary hours missed due to a public holiday.

It is important for employers to ensure their payroll is set up correctly to remain compliant within tax and payroll regulations during the holiday period. For employees covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement, the award or agreement should set out the rate at which the employee should be paid. These usually provide that an employee will be entitled to an increased rate (e.g. double-time-and-a-half) and may contain rules about the minimum number of hours an employee can be required to work.

For employees not covered by an award or enterprise agreement, employers should review whether the employee’s contract of employment contains any clauses providing for enhanced rates of pay. Remember to check your modern award or enterprise agreement for any other relevant obligations. Some awards provide for additional benefits for employees in respect of public holidays, for example that they must be provided with an alternative day off when they work on the holiday or that they are entitled to be paid for a public holiday even if it falls on a day they do not usually work.

Regional 2024 public holidays

Staying informed about the public holidays that may impact your staff and understanding the corresponding pay rates when trading on those days is crucial. Additionally, be aware that states may have varying regulations regarding public holidays falling on weekends. 

In some instances, a public holiday is observed on the subsequent Monday, either in lieu of or in addition to the holiday that occurred on the preceding Saturday or Sunday. Below are the designated 2024 Public Holidays:

Australian Capital Territory Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Monday 11 March – Canberra Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Easter Saturday
  • Sunday 31 March – Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 27 May – Reconciliation Day
  • Monday 10 June – Sovereign’s Birthday (subject to change)
  • Monday 7 October – Labour Day
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

 New South Wales Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Easter Saturday
  • Sunday 31 March – Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 10 June – King’s Birthday
  • Monday 7 October – Labour Day
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

Queensland Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Day after Good Friday
  • Sunday 31 March – Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 6 May – Labour Day
  • Wednesday 14 August – Royal Queensland Show (Brisbane area only)
  • Monday 7 October -King’s Birthday
  • Tuesday 24 December – Christmas Eve (from 6 pm to midnight)
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

Victoria Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Monday 11 March – Labour Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Saturday before Easter Sunday
  • Sunday 31 March – Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 10 June – King’s Birthday
  • TBC – Friday before AFL Grand Final (subject to AFL schedule)
  • Tuesday 5 November – Melbourne Cup
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

South Australia Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Monday 11 March- Adelaide Cup Day (subject to proclamation)
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Easter Saturday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 10 June – King’s Birthday
  • Monday 7 October – Labour Day
  • Tuesday 24 December – Christmas Eve (from 7 pm to midnight)
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day/ Proclamation Day
  • Tuesday 31 December- New Year’s Eve (from 7 pm to midnight)

Northern Territory Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Easter Saturday
  • Sunday 31 March – Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April- Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 6 May – May Day
  • Monday 10 June – June public holiday
  • Monday 5 August – Picnic Day
  • Tuesday 24 December – Christmas Eve (from 7 pm to midnight)
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day
  • Tuesday 31 December – New Year’s Eve (from 7 pm to midnight)

Tasmania Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January- New Year’s Day (substitute day as New Year’s Day falls on a weekend)
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Monday 12 February – Royal Hobart Regatta (only observed in certain areas of the state)
  • Monday 11 March – Eight Hours Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Tuesday 2 April – Easter Tuesday (generally Public Service only)
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 10 June – King’s Birthday
  • Monday 4 November – Recreation Day (all parts of the state which do not observe Royal Hobart Regatta)
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

Western Australia Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Monday 4 March – Labour Day
  • Friday 29 March- Good Friday
  • Sunday 31 March- Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 3 June – Western Australia Day
  • Monday 23 September – King’s Birthday (Some regional areas in WA hold the King’s Birthday public holiday on a different date)
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

FAQs

Common Questions About Public Holidays

Is New Year’s Eve a Public Holiday?

New Year’s Eve is not a public holiday in most states in Australia, with the exception of South Australia. This only stretches from 7pm to midnight.

Is Easter Monday a Public Holiday?

Yes, Easter Monday is a National Public Holiday in Australia.

Are Australian public holidays consistent across all states and territories?

No, Australian public holidays can vary between states and territories. While some holidays are observed nationwide, there are also region-specific holidays. It’s crucial for business owners to be aware of the specific holidays relevant to their location.

What are the general rules regarding employee pay on public holidays?

The pay rates for public holidays in Australia are not standardised. They depend on various factors such as Modern Awards, enterprise agreements, workplace agreements, or individual contracts. Business owners should refer to the relevant employment agreements to determine the correct payment conditions for their employees on public holidays.

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