Public Holiday Work

Employers can often become confused about the rules surrounding public holiday work and with a number of state and national public holidays coming up, it is important for them to get it right. Employers should make themselves aware about what they can and can’t do in regards to public holiday work to avoid costly fines or consequences.


Public Holiday Payment

Payment for work on a public holiday is determined by the applicable modern award or enterprise agreement relevant to that employee. If an employee is award/agreement-free, then the payment for public holiday work is determined by the terms of the employee’s contract of employment.


Requirement to Work on a Public Holiday

The Fair Work Act (s114) states that an employer may request an employee to work on a public holiday if the request is reasonable. However, an employee can refuse to work on a public holiday if the request from an employer is unreasonable, or the refusal by the employee is reasonable. To determine whether a request or refusal of request is reasonable, the following must be considered:

  • The nature of the employer’s workplace and the nature of an employee’s work
  • An employee’s personal circumstances
  • The type of employment – full-time, part-time, casual or shift work
  • The amount of notice in advance of the public holiday given by an employer making a request
  • The amount of notice given by an employee refusing to work on a public holiday
  • Whether the employee could reasonably expect an employer to request them to work
  • Whether an employee is entitled to receive overtime or other penalty payments


Rostered Day Off (RDO)

In some modern awards, there may contain a section which states that where a full-time employee’s ordinary hours are arranged to include an RDO and the day off falls on a public holiday, the employee is usually entitled to either:

  • 6 hours of pay at the ordinary time rate
  • 6 hours of extra annual leave, or
  • A substitute day off on an alternative week day


For advice regarding public holiday work, please contact us on (08) 9316 9896 or



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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.