5 things to know about public holidays during the Christmas and New Year period

It's important you know your rights and obligations at work over the Christmas and New Year period.

Find out 5 key things to know about public holidays and shut downs.

1. The public holidays for Christmas and New Year can be different depending on where you are

There are a few public holidays over the Christmas and New Year period. They may be different depending on the state or territory. It's important to check when they are.

Check the Public holidays page to see which days were public holidays in your State or Territory.

2. Full-time and part-time employees get the day off - paid

Full-time and part-time employees, who normally work on the day a public holiday falls, are entitled to a paid day off. This is paid at their base pay rate for the ordinary hours they would have worked.

Casual employees don't get paid for public holidays, unless they work on the actual day.

An award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement can set out other rules about not working on a public holiday.

An employer can't alter an employee's roster to avoid a public holiday.

Find out more on our Not working on public holidays page.

3. Employees can be asked to work, whether they're full-time, part-time or casual

Employers can ask employees to work on a public holiday - if it's reasonable to.

What makes it reasonable (or unreasonable) can depend on a few different things, including (but not only):

  • whether the employee will get paid penalties for working
  • the work an employee does and the industry they work in
  • how much notice the employer has given.

Your award or registered agreement will outline what employees should be paid.

Most employees are entitled to penalty rates for working on a public holiday. However some awards and agreements allow employees to:

  • substitute the public holiday for a different day
  • have a day added to their annual leave balance, or
  • get time off in lieu.

Find out more on our Working on public holidays page.

4. Public holidays don't count as annual leave or sick leave

If an employee has taken annual leave over Christmas and New Year, the public holidays don't come off their leave balance.

This also applies if they get sick before, on, or after a public holiday. If an employee takes sick leave on either side of the public holiday, they still need to be paid for the public holiday (if it is a day they would normally work). For the day before or the day after the public holiday, normal sick leave rules apply. This means the employer can ask for evidence, just like they can for any sick leave day. For more information on rules around sick leave, check out our Notice and medical certificates page.

Find out more on our Not working on public holidays page.

5. Most employees can be directed to take leave if the business is shutting down for the holidays

An employee can be directed to take annual leave during a shut down if the award or registered agreement allows it.

Most awards have rules about how and when an employer can direct an employee to take leave. For example, an employer may need to give the employee a set amount of notice (eg. 4 weeks) that they will need to take annual leave.

Find out more on our What happens when a business shuts down over Christmas and New Years page.

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