Over Easter, organisations are often confused about public holidays and some get caught out, opening up, and then not paying penalty rates, because they are not aware that the day is a public holiday – this mostly happens on Easter Saturday.
Australia has national public holidays, which are New Year’s Day, Australia Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. These days are public holidays no matter what state of Australia you are in.
You will note that Easter Saturday is not included as a national public holiday, however it is a public holiday in NSW, ACT,NT,QLD, SA and VIC.
So be careful!
Many employers have argued with me, when I have highlighted the need to pay penalty rates on Easter Saturday. They argue that it is not a public holiday, but unless you are in Tassie or WA, it is.
It is all about being fair to your workers and protecting your business from claims and understanding the law, so you can make informed and smart business decisions.
If you are opening on a pubic holiday, what rights do you workers have to refuse to work and what can you do about it?
The Fair Work Act gives the right to employers to make reasonable requests to an employee to work on a public holiday.
The employee is also provided the right to refuse a request to work on a public holiday if:
• the request (by the employer) is not reasonable; or
• the refusal by the employee is deemed reasonable.
How do we assess reasonableness though?
The Fair Work Commission would assess the nature of the workplace, the nature of the work performed by the employee and how much notice the employee has been given, in regards to the need to work public holidays.
They also take into account the employees family responsibilities and personal situation. Is there a general expectation for the workers in this type of business to need to work on a public holiday, and are the workers fairly and correctly remunerated for their work on public holidays?
When considering the rights of an employee to refuse to work the public holiday, the amount of notice given by the employee to the business is also deliberated upon.
As with all human resource advice, always act in a fair and reasonable manner, ensure fair consultation with workers and keep written records of notification, meetings and discussions.
If done correctly, you can have your egg and eat it too at Easter!
Important Note: These articles have been prepared for general circulation and are circulated for general informational purposes only; these articles should not be regarded as business or investment advice. The articles represent the views of the writers and are subject to change without notice. Additionally, while every care has been taken in the preparation of the articles no representation or warranty as to accuracy or completeness of any statement is given. An individual or organisation should, before any business or investment decision is made, consider the appropriateness of the information in this document, and seek professional advice, having regard to objectives, situation and needs. This document is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided.