Small Business Guide: Working on a Public Holiday 2024

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Understanding Public Holidays

This guide, our experts list all key 2024 Public Holidays and discuss how they might impact your business.

Trading on Public Holidays

We discuss the requirements for staying open during the holidays, and how business owners can learn their obligations.

Requesting Employees Work

Employers may request an employee work on a public holiday, but it is important to know what is a fair request, your employee’s rights to decline, and all other obligations.

Penalty Rates

If you are in an industry that is permitted to trade during the holidays, you will need to be across the different penalty rates for paying your team when they work hours that are not considered “normal”.

Shutdown Periods

Most businesses will choose to shutdown during the holidays, understanding how to properly stop business during this time is critical for remaining compliant.

Regional Public Holidays 2024

In this guide, we outline all Australian holidays based on their region.

Understanding Public Holidays

This guide, our experts list all key 2024 Public Holidays and discuss how they might impact your business.

Requesting Employees Work

Employers may request an employee work on a public holiday, but it is important to know what is a fair request, your employee’s rights to decline, and all other obligations.

Shutdown Periods

Most businesses will choose to shutdown during the holidays, understanding how to properly stop business during this time is critical for remaining compliant.

Trading on Public Holidays

We discuss the requirements for staying open during the holidays, and how business owners can learn their obligations.

Penalty Rates

If you are in an industry that is permitted to trade during the holidays, you will need to be across the different penalty rates for paying your team when they work hours that are not considered “normal”.

In this guide, we outline all Australian holidays based on their region.

Throughout this guide, we will discuss how Modern Awards can impact your specific situation.

Modern awards cover a wide range of matters, including wages, working hours, leave entitlements, and other conditions of employment. They are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the economy, working practices, and community standards. If you’re looking to find out more about your Modern Award, Our experts have compiled a list of summaries including:

SCHADS Award common questions
Aged Care Award Summary
Legal Services Award
Children’s Services Award 
Hair & Beauty Industry Award
View our complete list of Award Summaries.

If you are unsure which Award covers your business, or don’t see your relevant Award, get in touch with our team.

Section 1

 

Understanding public holidays in Australia

Holidays can differ depending on where you are, such as nationwide, state based, or territory based. While most major holidays are the same all over Australia, there are some differences in which holidays are celebrated and when. In this guide, our experts list all key 2024 Public Holidays and talk about how they might affect your business.

If you own a small business and have questions about holidays, or about employer obligations about public holidays, our experts are here to help. Get in touch with us, and we’ll give you advice that fits your situation.

Section 2

 

Understanding compliance around trading on a public holiday

If you plan to keep your small business open on a public holiday, make sure you know the rules that apply to your business. Only certain businesses can stay open during public holidays, and a business must get an exemption if they do not fall under the correct category for trading on these days. If you’re unsure about this for your business, reach out to your local government for guidance.

If your business is allowed to stay open on public holidays, your employees usually don’t have to work on those days. If a permanent employee was supposed to work on a public holiday, they can take the day off and still get paid their regular rate for the hours they would have worked.

However, if you need your employees to work on the public holiday, you can ask them. They can say no if it’s not reasonable for them to work based on their personal circumstances.

Section 3

 

Understanding compliance around requesting an employee to work on public holidays

In some businesses, like restaurants, employees often need to work on public holidays. If you have to ask your employees to work on a public holiday, it’s important to ask in a fair way and have a good reason for making the request. Employees can say no if they think the request is not fair. Before asking, think about things like the employee’s personal life, their job in the company, and what the business needs. It’s a good idea to talk about the possibility of working on public holidays early on in the job recruiting process.

Employees are allowed to swap one public holiday for a different day, and sometimes, these agreements might give employees extra benefits such as:

  • Extra pay ( example: public holiday rates);
  • Minimum shift lengths on public holidays; or
  • An extra day off or extra annual leave.

It is important to remember that employees have the right to be absent from work on a day or part-day that is a public holiday. Employees are protected from adverse action for reasonably refusing to work on a public holiday. If you’re looking for more information about regulations on public holidays, our experts have written a comprehensive article surrounding compliance obligations during the holidays.

Section 4

 

Penalty rates

Penalty rates are extra pay that employees get when they work on the weekend. The amount depends on the Modern Award that applies to your business. These rates are meant to compensate employees for working at times that are not considered normal, like weekends or holidays.

If your business operates on a public holiday, the Modern Award will determine the higher pay rate for employees working on that day. Even if an employee doesn’t work on a public holiday, they still have the right to receive their regular hourly wage for the usual hours they would have worked. For employees covered by a Modern Award or enterprise agreement, the rules for pay rates should be specified in the award or agreement. 

This often includes an increased rate, like double-time-and-a-half, and may have rules about the minimum hours an employee can be asked to work. For employees without a specific award or agreement, employers should check the employment contract for any clauses about higher pay rates. It’s important to review the Modern Award or enterprise agreement for any additional obligations. Some awards may offer extra benefits for employees working on public holidays, such as providing a day off or paying them even if it’s a day they don’t usually work.

Section 5

Shutdown Period

A shut down period is when a business, or part of it, doesn’t operate. Award-covered employees can only be directed to take annual leave during a shutdown period where the award specifically provides for this and the employees are given the applicable notice period set out in the award. Award-free employees can be directed to take annual leave during a shutdown period where it is reasonable to do so. Neither award-covered employees or award-free employees can be directed to take leave without pay if they don’t have sufficient leave to cover the shutdown period, this can only be done with the employee’s agreement.

Fair Work resources on penalty and pay conditions

If you are looking for more information on calculating public holiday rates, and entitlements, Fair Work provides two helpful links for  Public holiday penalty rates and Pay and Conditions Tool

Section 6

 

2024 Public Holidays in Australia

Australian Capital Territory Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Monday 11 March – Canberra Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Easter Saturday
  • Sunday 31 March – Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 27 May – Reconciliation Day
  • Monday 10 June – Sovereign’s Birthday (subject to change)
  • Monday 7 October – Labour Day
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

New South Wales Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Easter Saturday
  • Sunday 31 March – Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 10 June – King’s Birthday
  • Monday 7 October – Labour Day
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

Queensland Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Day after Good Friday
  • Sunday 31 March – Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 6 May – Labour Day
  • Wednesday 14 August – Royal Queensland Show (Brisbane area only)
  • Monday 7 October -King’s Birthday
  • Tuesday 24 December – Christmas Eve (from 6 pm to midnight)
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

Victoria Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Monday 11 March – Labour Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Saturday before Easter Sunday
  • Sunday 31 March – Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 10 June – King’s Birthday
  • TBC – Friday before AFL Grand Final (subject to AFL schedule)
  • Tuesday 5 November – Melbourne Cup
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

South Australia Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Monday 11 March- Adelaide Cup Day (subject to proclamation)
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Easter Saturday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 10 June – King’s Birthday
  • Monday 7 October – Labour Day
  • Tuesday 24 December – Christmas Eve (from 7 pm to midnight)
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day/ Proclamation Day
  • Tuesday 31 December- New Year’s Eve (from 7 pm to midnight)

Northern Territory Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Easter Saturday
  • Sunday 31 March – Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April- Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 6 May – May Day
  • Monday 10 June – June public holiday
  • Monday 5 August – Picnic Day
  • Tuesday 24 December – Christmas Eve (from 7 pm to midnight)
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day
  • Tuesday 31 December – New Year’s Eve (from 7 pm to midnight)

Tasmania Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January- New Year’s Day (substitute day as New Year’s Day falls on a weekend)
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Monday 12 February – Royal Hobart Regatta (only observed in certain areas of the state)
  • Monday 11 March – Eight Hours Day
  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Tuesday 2 April – Easter Tuesday (generally Public Service only)
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 10 June – King’s Birthday
  • Monday 4 November – Recreation Day (all parts of the state which do not observe Royal Hobart Regatta)
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

Western Australia Public Holidays

  • Monday 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 26 January – Australia Day
  • Monday 4 March – Labour Day
  • Friday 29 March- Good Friday
  • Sunday 31 March- Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday
  • Thursday 25 April – Anzac Day
  • Monday 3 June – Western Australia Day
  • Monday 23 September – King’s Birthday (Some regional areas in WA hold the King’s Birthday public holiday on a different date)
  • Wednesday 25 December – Christmas Day
  • Thursday 26 December – Boxing Day

At HR Connect, we see Human Resources as a strategic function in every business, whether small or large, because we know the key to being a successful business is to be a great employer.

Know you’re meeting your obligations as a small business owner and make confident and compliant business decisions with HR and workplace safety advice, and legal support for small businesses.

Reach out to our team today to get more information about how you can streamline your HR functions in your business and ensure you are compliant.

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