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Public Holidays: an employer’s guide

Public holidays: the big picture

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

Public holidays: things you may not know

  • Employers with employees working under Modern Awards, Enterprise Agreements or other Registered Agreements should check their respective industrial agreement for specific entitlements around public holidays.
  • Employees don’t have to work on a public holiday. The NES protect an employee’s workplace right to reasonably refuse to work on a public holiday and will guarantee payment where an employee is absent from work because of a public holiday.
  • Employees (except casual employees) who normally work on the day a public holiday falls will be paid their base pay rate for the ordinary hours they would have worked if they had not been away because of the public holiday.
  • An employee doesn’t get paid for a public holiday if they don’t normally work on the day that the public holiday falls.
  • If a public holiday falls when an employee is on leave, their entitlement to the public holiday depends on whether they are taking paid leave or unpaid leave.
  • If an employee takes sick leave either side of a public holiday, they should still be paid for the public holiday if it is on a day that they would normally work. Normal sick leave rules apply for the time taken as sick leave and an employer can ask the employee for evidence that shows the reason they took the leave.

Public Holidays: your obligations on one page

The Fair Work Ombudsman has a Fact Sheet on Public Holidays. Download the Fact Sheet here.

Like a superhero, Bare Bones Consulting takes no public holidays. We’ll be here to assist you with any advice on managing your HR risk and getting the best from your people so you work smarter, grow stronger and move faster.

We wish everyone a safe and happy break…eat as much chocolate as possible and take it easy on the roads if you’re driving!

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  • Bare Bones Consulting

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