• Helen

Don't be a Bunny this Easter Know Your Employer Public Holidays Rights

A long weekend, chocolate, family gatherings, dusty bunny prints in your hallway – what’s not to love about Easter? Many a payroll officer would say plenty!

This years’ Easter public holidays have been declared by the relevant States and Territories as follows: All States and Territories Good Friday – Friday 30 March Easter Saturday – Saturday 31 March (except Tasmania and Western Australia) Easter Sunday – Sunday 1 April (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Australian Capital Territory) Easter Monday – Monday 2 April Here are some breeds of rabbits you might have to deal with. The “Veruka Salt - I Don't Want to Work” Rabbit The Fair Work Act (s114) provides that an employee can refuse to work on a public holiday if the employer's request to work is not reasonable or the employee's refusal is reasonable. In considering whether an employer’s request is reasonable, or a refusal of a request is reasonable, the following must be taken into account:

  • the nature of an employer's workplace and the nature of an employee’s work

  • an employee's personal circumstances, including family responsibilities

  • whether an employee could reasonably expect an employer might request work on the public holiday

  • whether an employee is entitled to receive overtime or other penalty payments or other compensation that reflects an expectation to work on public holidays

  • the type of employment of an employee (for example, whether full-time, part-time, casual, or shift work)

  • the amount of notice in advance of the public holiday given by an employer when making the request

  • the amount of notice given by an employee when refusing a request to work on a public holiday.

Remember, employees may have a good reason to refuse to work, but if they don’t explain those reasons to their employer, their refusal to work will not be considered reasonable. “The Opportunistic Rabbit” - Absences Before and/or After a Public Holiday The FWA makes it clear that employers can require notification from employees of any absence and evidence to support any personal leave they take. However, there is no provision within the FWA or any modern award for employers to deduct payment for a public holiday in order to deter employees from being absent on the day or days adjacent to a public holiday. Section 116 of the FWA states that if an employee is absent from his/her employment on a day or part-day that is a public holiday, an employer must pay the employee at the employee’s base rate of pay for the employee’s ordinary hours of work on the day or part-day. This does not apply to employees who do not have ordinary hours of work on the public holiday. Unauthorised absence may be grounds for taking disciplinary action but employers will want to ensure they have appropriate policies in place to discourage non-genuine absences from work. The “I’m Hopping Outta Here” Rabbit - Annual Leave & Personal/Carer’s Leave Sections 89 and 98 of the FWA states that if a period of paid annual leave or personal/carer’s leave includes a day or part-day that is a public holiday an employee is taken to be on the public holiday and not on a period of annual leave or personal/carer’s leave. Tip of the Day: You can never start preparing too early for the Easter public holidays. Take a leaf from Woolworths – their hot cross buns are baked and available on shelves only 348 days in advance!

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