How to Avoid the Public Holiday Pitfalls

How to Avoid the Public Holiday Pitfalls


Christmas is almost here, meaning many of us will be hitting the pause button to spend some precious time with family and friends.

To make sure the holidays don’t cause any headaches back at work, here are some guidelines to help you avoid the public holiday pitfalls…

NSW and ACT Public Holidays

  • Monday 25 December 2017 – Christmas Day
  • Tuesday 26 December 2017 – Boxing Day
  • Monday 1 January 2018 – New Year’s Day

Sectors requiring work on a public holiday

Did you know that all employees are entitled to be absent from work on a public holiday? In some sectors however, employers may require employees to work on a public holiday due to the type of work they do or the needs of the workplace. In this case employers can request employees work if the request is reasonable.

The following checklist can be used to determine if a request is reasonable:

  • Will the employee receive additional entitlements such as penalty rates or a day in lieu?
  • Does the type of work or the needs of the workplace require an employee to work on a public holiday?
  • Does the employee’s level of remuneration reflect an expectation to work on the public holiday?
  • Has the employer provided reasonable notice that the employee would be required to work?

Employees may also refuse a request to work if they have reasonable grounds such as:

  • Personal circumstances including family responsibilities; or
  • The employee has provided reasonable notice that they are unable to work.

Employees who work on a public holiday

Employees who work on a public holiday are entitled to receive at least their base rate of pay. Additionally, some employees may be entitled to penalty rates, an extra day off or another entitlement. Be sure to check your relevant Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement to determine if additional entitlements apply.

Employees not working on a public holiday

  • Permanent employees are entitled to be paid their base rate of pay where they would ordinarily work on the day that the public holiday falls.
  • Casual employees are not entitled to be paid unless they are rostered to work on the day of the public holiday.

Public holidays during leave

If an employee is on a period of paid leave, such as annual, personal/carer’s or long service leave on the day that a public holiday falls, the public holiday will override the day of leave so that the employee will be entitled to be paid for the public holiday without suffering a deduction from their leave balance.

This does not apply where:

  • The public holiday falls on a day that is not the employee’s usual day of work; or
  • The employee is on a period of unpaid leave. 

If you have an enquiry relating to public holidays, we encourage you to get in touch with us so that an Employment Relations Specialist can assist you.  Call CCER on 9390 5255 or email

Back to articles