Don’t get caught out this (public) holiday season!
01 December 2021
By Zaynab Aly
Public holidays are few and far between throughout the year, but it’s a different story when it comes to the end of the year. With many public holidays happening in a short space of time during the festive season, it can be hard to keep track of what the different public holidays are in each State, and if you’re a retailer, what trade restrictions will apply to your business.
In this article, I’ve put together a quick-reference guide to help you navigate this busy period. Below is a table of the public holidays in each jurisdiction.
|Public holiday||States recognised|
|Friday 24 Dec||QLD (6 pm-midnight)
SA & NT (7 pm-midnight)
|Saturday 25 Dec||NSW, VIC, QLD, WA, NT, TAS & ACT|
|Sunday 26 Dec||NSW, VIC, QLD, WA, SA & ACT|
|Monday 27 Dec||Additional Day (25 Dec) NSW, VIC, QLD, WA, NT, TAS & ACT
Substitute Day (25 Dec) SA
|Tuesday 28 Dec||Additional Day (26 Dec) NSW, VIC, QLD, WA, SA & ACT
Substitute Day (26 Dec) NT
|Friday 31 Dec||SA & NT (7 pm-midnight)|
|Saturday 1 Jan||NSW, VIC, QLD, WA, NT & ACT|
|Monday 3 Jan||Additional Day (1 Jan) NSW, VIC, QLD, WA, NT, ACT
Substitute Day (1 Jan) SA & TAS
If you’re in the retail industry, you may be subject to restricted trading over the Christmas period. Here’s a quick overview of these rules:
|NSW||Non-exempt shops must remain closed on Christmas Day.
All shops are permitted to trade on Boxing Day if employees freely elect to work.
|VIC||Non-exempt shops must remain closed on Christmas Day.|
|QLD||Non-exempt shops and independent retail shops must remain closed after 6 pm on Christmas Eve and all-day Christmas Day.
Additionally, there are extended trading hours for non-exempt shops from 28 November 2021 to 24 December 2021.
|WA||General retail shops in the Perth metropolitan area must remain closed on Christmas Day.
General retail shops outside of the Perth metropolitan area must remain closed on all Sundays and public holidays (subject to specific LGA exemptions).
|SA||Non-exempt shops must remain closed on Christmas Day.
Additionally, there are extended trading hours for non-exempt shops from 26 November 2021 if employees freely elect to work.
|NT||No trading hours restrictions.|
|TAS||Large shops (those which employ 250 employees or more including franchise groups) must remain closed on Christmas Day.|
|ACT||No trading hours restrictions.|
We appreciate that trading restrictions can be difficult to get your head around, and the definition of ‘exempt’ shops differs between jurisdictions, so we encourage you to reach out to us if you would like to discuss your circumstances. The above table is intended as guidance only and doesn’t include each trading restriction that may be relevant to your store.
Generally, other than in the ACT and NT, most large shops are restricted from trading on Christmas Day unless they have a valid exemption.
How to pay your employees
With all the different public holidays in each State, it gets confusing to keep up with how you need to pay your employees. The first thing to remember is that under s114 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), the default position is that employees are entitled to be absent on public holidays. An employer can request an employee to work on a public holiday, but only where that request is reasonable, and the employee’s refusal (if any) isn’t reasonable.
If an employee does perform work on a public holiday, most modern awards and enterprise agreements impose penalty rates. This will usually apply to all additional or substitute public holidays as well. If an employee is award or agreement-free or paid by way of a salary that incorporates public holiday rates into its value, you may not be required to pay any additional remuneration for work on a public holiday. However, you should check any contract of employment or other terms and conditions of employment to identify if any additional entitlements are owed, such as a day in lieu.
Permanent employees who aren’t required to work on a public holiday but would otherwise have ordinary hours on that day are entitled to be paid at their base rate.
For example, if an employee in South Australia works Saturday 25 December 2021 to Tuesday 28 December 2021 over Christmas, they would receive penalty rates for working on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, and be paid at their ordinary rate (plus Saturday penalties) for the Saturday.
Please note that this article is for National System Employers only (the majority of employers in Australia, excluding certain government employers, and non-constitutional corporations in WA).
If you have any questions about the information in this article, please contact the Client Success Team – we’re always here to help you.
We believe HR should be simple. Simple enough for you to run your business confidently. If you’d like to see enableHR in action, contact us to learn more about how we can help your business.
Zaynab Aly is a Workplace Relations Consultant at HR Assured (our sister company). She has a particular interest in the retail industry and regularly provides advice on workplace matters to find solutions for clients.
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