Working on public holidays

Employees get paid at least their base pay rate for all hours worked on public holidays.

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements can provide entitlements for working public holidays, including:

  • extra pay (eg. public holiday rates)
  • an extra day off or extra annual leave
  • minimum shift lengths on public holidays
  • agreeing to substitute a public holiday for another day.

Find information about working on public holidays in your award by selecting from the list below.

Hospitality Award

Based on what you've told us, it looks like you're covered by the Hospitality Industry (General) Award [MA000009].

An employee has to be paid public holiday rates for all time worked on a public holiday.

To calculate public holiday pay rates, use our Pay Calculator.

Alternative public holiday payments

When a full-time or part-time employee works on a public holiday, they can agree with their employer to get a 25% loading on their ordinary pay rate, and either:

  • a day (or equivalent time) off with no loss of pay, or
  • an extra day (or equivalent time) added to their annual leave.

This applies instead of the normal public holiday penalty loading.

If they choose a day (or equivalent time) off with no loss of pay, they can take the day (or equivalent time) off:

  • during the week of the public holiday
  • within 28 days of the public holiday, or
  • if agreed, within 6 months of the public holiday.

An employee paid an annual salary must get paid time off or equivalent time added to their annual leave, if they work on a public holiday.

Minimum hours on public holidays

Regardless of how long they actually work, when an employee works on a public holiday they have to be paid for a minimum of:

  • 4 hours for full-time and part-time employees
  • 2 hours for casual employees.

Minimum hours on part-day public holidays

Regardless of how long they actually work, when an employee works on a public holiday, their employer has to pay them for a minimum of:

  • 4 hours for full-time and part-time employees
  • 2 hours for casual employees.

Hours worked right before or after a public holiday, which are all part of the same shift, count toward the minimum shift length. For example, a part-time employee may work 3 hours on the night before a public holiday and only 1 hour on the actual public holiday. This would mean their shift was a minimum of 4 hours.

This also applies to part-day public holidays.

Substituting public holidays

An employer and an employee can agree to substitute a public holiday (or part-day public holiday) for another day.

If a public holiday is substituted, then the substitute day is regarded as the public holiday and penalty rates are only paid on the substitute day.

Christmas Day substitute public holiday

A full-time or part-time employee who works on Christmas Day, when Christmas Day falls on a weekend and the day is not a prescribed public holiday will get:

  • the Saturday or Sunday penalty loading
  • an additional 25% loading on their ordinary pay rate for the hours they work on Christmas Day
  • a substitute day.

Check the Hospitality Award for other entitlements that can apply when working a public holiday.

To find out more about who this award applies to, go to the Hospitality Award summary.

Source reference: Hospitality Industry (General) Award [MA000009] clause 25.4. 25.5, 29.4 and 35 external-icon.png

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Requesting and refusing to work on public holidays

Employees don't have to work on a public holiday.

However, an employer can ask an employee to work on a public holiday, if the request is reasonable. An employee may refuse a request to work if they have reasonable grounds.

The following need to be taken into account when deciding if a request is reasonable:

  • the employee's personal circumstances, (eg. family responsibilities)
  • whether the employee will get more pay (eg. penalty rates)
  • the needs of the workplace
  • the type of work the employee does
  • whether the employee's salary includes work on a public holiday
  • whether the employee is full-time, part-time, casual or a shiftworker
  • how much notice the employee was given about working
  • the amount of notice the employee gives that they refuse to work.

When requesting that an employee work on a public holiday, employers need to consider all relevant circumstances, including the ones listed above.



Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 s.114 -116 external-icon.png

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