With most states and territories facing a public holiday this weekend, employers are being pressed to meet their payment obligations under workplace laws.
Victorians will mark the controversial AFL Grand Final holiday on Friday 29 September, while Monday 2 October marks Labour Day in NSW, South Australia and ACT and the Queen’s Birthday in Queensland.
It also comes after a public holiday was observed on Monday this week in the ACT and Western Australia.
“Customer[s] expect businesses to operate across public holidays, meaning employers are requesting their employees work on a public holiday, and employers are entitled to ask – provided the request is reasonable,” said Andrew Spiteri, senior employment relations adviser at Employsure.
As Mr Spiteri points out, all full-time and part-time employees who normally would have worked on a day where a public holiday falls are legally entitled to be paid for that day at their base rate.
For casuals, they are entitled to have the day off, but are not required to be paid unless they do actually work that day.
As a number of employers have discovered the hard penalties in recent months, including one facing the prospect of $1.5 million in fines for the use of flat pay rates, confusion around public holiday pay rates is commonly centred on awards.
“If an employee is covered by an Award or Agreement, and they work on a public holiday, they may be entitled to extra pay called a penalty rate, or a different day off to substitute the public holiday,” Mr Spiteri said.
To avoid facing hefty backpay bills and potential fines from the Fair Work Ombudsman, all employers should know the correct award that applies to any and all employees in their business, and the associated pay and conditions that apply.