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Public holiday entitlements for workers

in Workplace Law by Marcus Clayton on

As Australians, we love a well-deserved public holiday.

However that may not be the case for many workers in industries such as hospitality and healthcare. It’s important for those workers, particularly people engaged in casual or shift work to check that they are entitled to additional pay - or penalty rates - if they work on public holidays.

The issue of penalty rates receives much media attention, particularly following reports of the employment watchdog investigating 1000s of complaints of unpaid penalty rates every year.

Employees who are rostered to work on public holidays should remember that they are likely to be entitled to public holiday entitlements such as extra pay. Different rates may be applicable on different days.

Anyone intending to work on public holidays should check their award or employment agreement to find out what level of increased pay they should receive on the various days.

Tips for anyone working on public holidays:

  • Most workers should be entitled to be paid penalty rates for any work performed on any gazetted public holiday.
  • Some workers may also be entitled to be paid for a minimum "shift", even if they work fewer hours on that day.
  • Workers should check their relevant Award or Enterprise Agreement to confirm that they are paid their full entitlement for working on these days.
  • If a worker believes they have not been paid correctly, they should contact the union that covers their industry or the Fair Work Ombudsman.

For a lot of casual workers, penalty rates for working weekends and public holidays are an important source of income.

Short changing someone on their penalty rates, or just not paying them, is against the law.

Check what you're entitled to by visiting the Fair Work Ombudsman's website.

If you've been unfairly dismissed from work, try our simple online tool to help create a claim. 

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