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Is your salon prepared for the Easter public holidays?

Posted March 1, 2021

With the Easter public holidays approaching, now is a good time to re-visit public holiday pay. Easter is often a popular period for employees to want to take the opportunity to have a well-earned break, however, many employers will face a challenging month of managing their employees’ entitlements as well as ensuring there is enough coverage during their operating hours.


Easter public holidays for all states and territories

The high number of public holidays makes Easter a popular period for employees wanting to take annual leave. The table below lists the Easter public holidays across Australia.




Friday 2 April Friday 2 April Friday 2 April Friday 2 April Friday 2 April Friday 2 April Friday 2 April Friday 2 April



Saturday 3 April Saturday 3 April Saturday 3 April Saturday 3 April Saturday 3 April Saturday 3 April



Sunday 4 April Sunday 4 April Sunday 4 April Sunday 4 April



Monday 5 April Monday 5 April Monday 5 April Monday 5 April Monday 5 April Monday 5 April Monday 5 April Monday 5 April


Payment for public holidays – absent on a public holiday

Under the National Employment Standards (NES), an employee that has ordinary hours that fall on a public holiday is entitled to be absent on the public holiday* and to be paid for these hours at the employee’s base rate of pay.

(* Employers may request employees to work on a public holiday – the matters to consider when requesting employees to work on a public holiday are outlined below.)

The “base rate of pay” of an employee is the rate of pay payable to the employee for his or her ordinary hours of work, but not including any of the following:

  • incentive based payments and bonuses
  • loadings
  • monetary allowances
  • overtime or penalty rates
  • any other separately identifiable amounts

If an employee does not have ordinary hours of work on the public holiday, the employee is not entitled to payment under NES.  For example, an employee would not be entitled to payment if they are:

  • a casual who is not asked to work on the public holiday; or
  • a part-time employee whose agreed part-time hours do not include the day of the week on which the public holiday occurs.

Payment for public holidays – work on a public holiday

Under the Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010, if an employee works on a public holiday, they must be paid a penalty rate of double time and a half.

Substituting public holidays

An employer and an employee can agree to substitute another day for a public holiday. If agreement is reached to substitute a public holiday, then the substitute day is regarded as the public holiday and penalty rates are paid on the substitute day.

If an employee works on both the actual public holiday and the substitute day, they are entitled to be paid the public holiday penalty rate for one of the days.  The employee chooses which day they want to be paid at the public holiday penalty rate.

It is recommended that any agreement to substitute a public holiday is recorded in writing.


Reasonable requests/refusals to work on a public holiday

The entitlement to be absent from work on a public holiday is subject to an employer’s right to request that an employee work on the public holiday if the request is reasonable.  However, the employee can refuse their employer’s request to work if the employee’s refusal is reasonable in the circumstances.

The NES sets out a few considerations to determine whether a request to work or a refusal to work is reasonable.  These include matters such as:

  • the nature of the work performed;
  • the employee’s personal circumstances, including family responsibilities;
  • whether or not there is a reasonable expectation that the employer may request the employee to work on a public holiday;
  • whether or not the employee is entitled to receive penalties for working on a public holiday;
  • the type of employment, for example, part-time or full-time;
  • the amount of notice given by the employer requesting the employee work on a public holiday;
  • the amount of notice given by the employee in refusing such a request; and
  • any other relevant factors.


Unscheduled absence on the day before or after a public holiday

The Fair Work Act (the FW Act) and the NES make it clear that employers can require employees to give notice of an absence due to illness, injury or unexpected emergency and to provide evidence to support any personal/carer’s leave they wish to take.

However, there is no ability under the FW Act for employers to deduct payment for a public holiday to deter employees from being absent on the day or days before or after the public holiday.

Despite this there are several options available that may help reduce or control the issue.

Notification and evidence requirements

Under the FW Act an employee is not entitled to personal/carer’s leave unless they:

  • notify their employer as soon as practicable that they will not be at work and the expected duration of the absence; and
  • must, if required by the employer, give the employer evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that they were unfit for work for that period.

Employees should be required to contact their manager or supervisor if they are unable to come to work for any reason, unless it is impractical for them to do so.  The notification should occur before the employee’s normal start time, or as early as possible.

Managers should ensure they follow up on any absence and, where necessary, seek the relevant evidence required. Common forms of evidence include a medical certificate or a statutory declaration.  It is important that the business sets out in a company policy and/or employment contract what type of evidence documentation is expected.

Public holiday falling during annual leave or personal/carer’s leave

Employers are often unsure of how public holidays interact with personal/carer’s leave and annual leave.

Basically, the NES provides that an employee is considered not to be on annual leave or personal/carer’s leave if it includes a day or part-day that is a public holiday.

Therefore, if a public holiday falls during a period of annual leave, it is not to be treated as a day of annual leave.  This means that annual leave hours will not be deducted from an employee’s annual leave accrual with respect to that day.

If an employee is absent from work on a public holiday due to being unfit for work due to personal illness or injury, the day will be paid as a public holiday, not personal leave. The same will apply if the employee is absent and meets the requirements for carer’s leave.


Further advice or assistance

For further advice or assistance on this topic, or any workplace relations matter, please #AskHABA by calling the HABA Advice Line on 02 9221 9911, 8:30am – 5:30pm AEDT Monday to Friday.


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