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Public holidays

Information about the relationship between leave and public holidays and whether an employee must work.

An employee is entitled to be absent from work on a public holiday without a deduction from their pay. An employer may request an employee to work on a public holiday provided the request is reasonable.

An employee can refuse to work either because the employer's request is unreasonable or the employee's refusal is reasonable.

How to decide what is reasonable

Factors which must be considered when deciding if a request or refusal is reasonable are:

  • the kind of workplace or enterprise (including its operational requirements), and the kind of work the employee does
  • the employee's personal circumstances, including family responsibilities
  • if it was reasonable to expect that the employer might ask them to work on the public holiday
  • if the employee is entitled to get:
    • overtime payments
    • penalty rates
    • other compensation for work on a public holiday
  • if the employee is paid a wage that reflects an expectation of, work on the public holiday
  • if the employee works full-time, part-time, casually or is a shiftworker
  • the amount of notice that the employer gave before they asked the employee to work
  • how much notice the employee gave that they would not work on the public holiday
  • any other relevant matter.

See s. 114—Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

Which days are public holidays?

The following days are public holidays:

  • 1 January, New Years Day
  • 26th January, Australia Day
  • Labour Day (second Monday in March)
  • Good Friday
  • Saturday before Easter Sunday
  • Easter Sunday
  • Easter Monday
  • 25th April, Anzac Day
  • Queens Birthday (second Monday in June)
  • Friday before AFL Grand Final
  • Melbourne Cup (First Tuesday in November)
  • 25th December, Christmas Day
  • 26th December, Boxing Day.

See s. 115—Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)(opens in a new window) and Public Holidays Act 1993 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Substitution

Employers and employees may agree to substitute a public holiday for another day of the year. This could be agreed to in an award, enterprise agreement or in another agreement between the parties.

Payment for public holidays

An employee who is absent from work on a public holiday must be paid at their base rate of pay for their ordinary hours of work.

If the employee does not ordinarily work on the day when a public holiday falls, they are not entitled to be paid. For example, if an employee works a 9 day fortnight and has every first monday off, they are not entitled to be paid if that public holiday falls on the monday when they are absent.

Casual employees are not entitled to be paid for public holidays unless they actually work on that day.

See s. 116—Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

More information

Legislation

Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

  • s. 114—entitlement to be absent from work on a public holiday
  • s. 115—meaning of a public holiday
  • s. 116—payment for a public holiday

See Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

Victorian Public Holidays Act 1993 (Vic)

  • s. 6—sets out the public holidays

See Public Holidays Act 1993 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Updated