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public holiday entitlements and rates

Public Holiday Entitlements

The National Employment Standards sets out employee entitlements for public holidays in Australia.

Here’s your guide to understanding public holiday entitlements.

Overview of public holiday entitlements

Public Holiday entitlement form part of the Fair Work Act – National Employment Standards (NES).

Under the NES and employee is entitled to be absent from work on a day or part day that is a public holiday.

Whilst an employer can request and employee to work on a public holiday, there are circumstance in which an employee may have a right to refuse on reasonable grounds.

If you require your employees to work on a public holiday and need guidance on your rights and obligation, contact our Employer Advisory Service now on 1300 116 400.

What days are public holidays?

The following days are public holidays specified under the National Employment Standards:

  • 1 January (New Year’s Day)
  • 26 January (Australia Day)
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • 25 April (Anzac Day)
  • Queen’s Birthday Holiday (the day on which it is celebrated in a State or Territory)
  • 25 December (Christmas Day)
  • 26 December (Boxing Day)

A one-off national public holiday has been declared for 22 September 2022 to coincide with a memorial service for the late Queen.
Any other day, or part-day, declared or prescribed by or under a law of a State or Territory to be observed generally within the State or Territory or a region of the State or Territory, as a public holiday.

Payment for public holidays

Your full-time and part-time employees are entitled to their normal all-purpose or base rate for that day if they are absent from work due to a public holiday. However, employees are not entitled under the NES to payment if a public holiday falls on a day that is outside of their ordinary workday.

For example, if Tuesday is a public holiday, and your part time employee doesn’t normally work Tuesdays, then the employee is not entitled to be paid for that day.

Working on a public holiday

If your business requires any employee to work on a public holiday, payment and penalty rates will be determined by reference to the applicable modern award or enterprise agreement.

If an employee is award free and not subject to an enterprise agreement, payment for all time worked on a public holiday will be subject to the terms of their employment contract.

Annual leave and personal/carer’s leave

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, if an employee is on a period of annual leave or personal/carers leave which includes a public holiday, the employee is to be re-credited the portion of leave that was a public holiday.

Public holiday entitlements during stand down

If your business has stood down employees as provided in section 524 of the Fair Work Act 2009, your employee may still be entitled to be paid for a public holiday that falls during the stand down period.

Although the employee has been stood down, public holidays are deemed as authorised absence from work; the employee is not considered to be stood down for on a public holiday.

Need Help?

Ensure you are aware of your rights and obligations as an employer when managing unpaid family and domestic violence leave request or when you become aware of an employee experiencing family and domestic violence leave in the workplace. For advice and guidance on this call our Employer Advisory Service on 1300 116 400.

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