People Smartz

What to pay on Public Holidays this Christmas

Tony Perkins - Monday, November 23, 2015

It has begun!  People are now looking ahead and realising that Christmas is coming up and we are starting to get calls from businesses working out when and if they need to pay public holiday rates on particular days.

The days on which public holiday rates are payable may be different depending on the state or territory in which you work.  The following is a breakdown of public holidays over the Christmas period:

Thursday 24 December - Public Holiday in South Australia only after 7pm

Friday 25 December - Public Holiday in all states and territories

Saturday 26 December - Public Holiday in ACT, NSW, Qld, Vic and WA

Sunday 27 December - No public holidays

Monday 28 December - Public Holiday in all states and territories.

Frequently Asked Questions on Public Holiday's:

Can an employee refuse to work on a public holiday?

All employees have the right to be absent from work on a public holiday under the National Employment Standards. An employer can ask employees to work on a public holiday and an employee may refuse on reasonable grounds.  It is important for employers to consider all the relevant employee/employer needs when considering whether the employees refusal is reasonable.

Payments to be made:

If an employee works on a public holiday - Where one of the above dates is a public holiday in your state or territory, employers are required to pay public holiday rates where their award or industrial instrument includes such a payment. It is important that all employers consult their award before calculating payments as some awards address these payments differently.

If an employee does not work a public holiday: It is important to note that under the National Employment Standards, employees who normally work on a day on which a public holiday falls must be paid their base rate for the ordinary hours they would have worked that day.  For example - if an employee normally works on a Friday but does not on Christmas Day, they would be entitled to payment at their normal hourly rate (not the public holiday rate).

If the employee is absent on paid leave on the public holiday: Once again, it is important to refer to your award etc in regards to this question.  Generally, in the case of any employee being absent on paid leave on a public holiday, the employee will be paid at their ordinary rate for that day.  However, the public holiday should not be counted as annual or personal leave and the public holiday hours not debited from any leave entitlements.

For more information, or if you have any other questions, please People Smartz through the following means:

  • Through our Contact Us Page (phone contact details are also available on this page)
  • If you are on a HR Support Program through your HRSmartz Web Portal
  • by email


Please note: the information above is presented generally and may not cover all circumstances.  You should exercise your own judgement and ensure you have addressed the circumstances applicable to your business at all times before making a decision.  If you require assistance, please contact us or seek other independent advice


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