Employees are entitled to public holidays under the National Employment Standards (NES). The NES outline the minimum standards for employment in Australia.

Staff absence on a public holiday

Full-time and part-time employees who are absent from work because of a public holiday should be paid their base rate of pay for the hours they would otherwise have worked. Employees aren't owed incentive-based payments, bonuses, overtime, penalty rates, loadings or monetary allowances.

Employees are only entitled to payment if the public holiday falls on a day that they normally work.

Casual employees only get public holiday entitlements if they work on the public holiday.

Staff who work on a public holiday

If you're employing staff on a public holiday, the employee may be entitled to:

  • penalty rates for each hour worked on that day
  • time off in lieu, or
  • equivalent time added to their annual leave for each hour worked on that day

Requesting staff to work on a public holiday

You can request an employee to work on public holidays if the request is reasonable.

A reasonable request will depend on the:

  • nature of the business
  • employee's personal circumstances, such as family responsibilities
  • amount of notice you provide

An employee can refuse the request if the request isn't reasonable, or if they have a reasonable reason to refuse.