Employee and Employer Obligations on Public Holidays in Australia

Operating a business during the holiday season can be challenging, especially when navigating the legal requirements for public holidays. In most cases, employees have the right to choose not to work on public holidays, but this may vary depending on the situation.

Employers cannot force their employees to work on public holidays in Australia, except under reasonable grounds. If an employer has reasonable grounds for requiring employees to work on a public holiday, they can request that employees come to work, and the employees can either accept or deny the request, depending on their individual circumstances.

Some businesses, such as restaurants, hospitality, and retail shops, may be able to require their employees to work on public holidays, depending on their enterprise agreement. In such cases, employees are entitled to additional compensation, as per their agreed-upon awards.

The additional compensation an employee is entitled to will depend on their employment status and the type of work they do. Employees working on public holidays must be paid at least their base rate, and the supplementary entitlements will depend on the awards agreed upon.

There are various factors to consider when determining if a request or refusal to work on public holidays is reasonable. The specific circumstances of the employee and employer, as well as their enterprise agreement, will dictate what counts as reasonable.

To learn more about what constitutes a reasonable request or refusal, refer to Section 114(4) of the Fair Work Act. Overall, employers cannot require their employees to work on public holidays in most situations, but the specifics will depend on the individual scenario.

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