Monday, 28 November 2016

Sudden Changes to Public Holidays in Victoria – Christmas Comes Early

This year Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. The Victorian Government had earlier this year indicated that, consistent with existing practices, Christmas Day would not be declared a public holiday, and accordingly no public holiday penalty rates would be payable for employees working on 25th December. Instead, Tuesday, 27th December was to be substituted as a public holiday in lieu. This decision was met with widespread criticism from Unions.

However, the Victorian Government announced on Friday that, while 27th December will remain a public holiday, 25th December will also be treated as a public holiday. This has the effect of increasing applicable penalty pay rates for many employees from Sunday rates to public holiday rates. Further, this means that employees may refuse to work that day on reasonable grounds, just like any other public holiday.

For many businesses, particularly those in the hospitality and retail industries, this decision will significantly increase wage costs over the Christmas period, and with very little notice to make arrangements to plan for this period.

Actions for Employers

  • Employers must ensure that in rostering employees to work over the Christmas holidays, appropriate penalty rates are applied in accordance with the applicable industrial instruments.
  • HR Legal works with employers to comply with employment obligations in the rapidly changing environment of employment law. If you require assistance, 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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