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Hair & Beauty Australia Industry Association


Posted November 6, 2017

Melbourne Cup really is the race that stops a nation – but as small business owners, we appreciate that for most salons Melbourne Cup becomes a minefield of customer and staff expectations. HABA are here to help in 2017 with our guide to surviving Melbourne Cup, no matter where in Australia you live.

    For most of Australia, Melbourne Cup is a standard working day, and you are not required to grant leave for the day if it would affect the functioning of your salon. In Melbourne however, the day is a=public holiday, which means that if you do choose to open (even if it’s just to perform blow-dry’s or last-minute tans for those attending the races) you do have to pay your the public holiday rates for the hours they work and your staff can refuse to work. Get the latest award wages rate card from the HABA Members Area by clicking here.
    Outside of Victoria, a salon owner might choose to operate the salon for a half-day and close after 2pm. This is great if you want to use this time as a team-building exercise and take your team out for lunch or similar. If you choose to close early, it should not be expected for staff to take Annual Leave to cover this closure. If you do choose to continue to operate throughout the afternoon, it is often a good idea to let those staff who are interested watch the race in the salon.


    It is a fine idea to encourage your staff to dress up on the day and wear hair pieces or dresses just as with other festive holidays. This is a great way for staff to continue to engage with the business and can be a lot of fun for your regular clients who get to see your team dressed up.


    This is really where the crux of the day comes about. Any staff members who choose to go out for Melbourne Cup, whether you have closed the salon for the afternoon or after work, should not come back to the salon under the influence of alcohol.You are entitled to send an employee who is unfit for work home and can take disciplinary action after. Make sure you approach the situation with discretion and let other staff members or clients know that the employee as “unwell”. Any accusations need to be left at the door for the meantime, as without a legal drug and alcohol test you can’t prove anything in court and this could be considered defamation.

    For Victorian Salons in particular, take care to watch out for “Sandwich Sickies” – staff who take advantage of the public holiday and call in sick the day before or after the Melbourne Cup. We advise having a point in your salon policies and procedures that require staff to provide a medical certificate to be paid their personal leave before or after public holidays.



The best piece of advice HABA can offer you for Melbourne Cup is to be prepared. Establish staff expectations and what the plans are for the day. Trust your staff to do the right thing, and be prepared in the instance that something goes wrong. If you’re not certain or if you need some advice on a sticky situation, call our HABA Members Advice Line on (02) 9221 9911.



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