Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Don’t be a bunny this Easter: Make sure you pay the right wage rate

It can be difficult to know what your obligations to employees are over the Easter period. This is your ‘how to guide’ for the upcoming public holidays to assist you in scheduling staff and ensuring you pay the right wages.

Public Holidays

The following days are public holidays across all of Australia:

  • Good Friday—Friday 14 April 2017
  • Easter Monday—Monday 17 April 2017

Most states and territories have declared additional public holidays over Easter. For example, in Victoria, Saturday 15 April and Sunday 16 April 2017 are also public holidays.

There are restrictions on trading on public holidays in most states over the Easter period. For example, in NSW there is restricted trading on Good Friday and Easter Sunday which means that only “exempt shops” are permitted to open, for example, newsagencies, chemists, restaurants and cafes.

Employers have the right to ask their employees to work on a public holiday, so long as the request is reasonable. However, employees can refuse to work on a public holiday if they have reasonable grounds, for example, if the employee has family responsibilities.

Permanent employees who are absent from work on a public holiday should be paid their base rate of pay for the ordinary hours they would have worked if it had not been a public holiday. However, a permanent employee is not entitled to payment if the public holiday falls on a day they would not normally work. Casual employees have no entitlement to be paid if they do not work on a public holiday.

Public Holiday Penalty Rates

Employees who work on public holidays may also be entitled to penalty rates, time in lieu or equivalent annual leave for each hour worked under the terms of any applicable modern award, enterprise agreement or employment contract.

In our recent article we provided information on the recent Fair Work Commission decision to reduce penalty rates in the hospitality, retail and fast-food industries. However, these reductions are yet to take effect. This means that the full penalty rates are still in place and must be paid to employees over this coming Easter period. The changes to penalty rates take effect from 1 July 2017.

If your business requires further assistance with checking the minimum pay rates and entitlements that apply at your workplace ahead of the Easter holidays, please contact us.


This article was produced by HR Legal. It is intended to provide general information only in summary format on legal issues. It does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on as such.

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