Come one, come all to the race that stops the nation – but don’t let it stop the working day!

Melbourne Cup fever is in the air and with race day nearly upon us, there a few things you can do to ensure your employees have both a fun and productive work day.

Have your policies in place!

Let your employees know well ahead of time what is expected of them during the day and remind them of what conduct is and isn’t appropriate. We have seen many employee try to claim a public holiday on Melbourne Cup Day, but don’t let the fool you because outside of Victoria your employees have no right to claim a public holiday or reap the benefits. Unless they have specifically taken a day of annual leave, they need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed on the sixth of November!

When someone wants to “chuck a sickie”

Now we’ve always got a least one staff member who calls up early morning with a sudden case of ‘party-itis’ or claims their long-lost cousin twice removed on their mothers side just died. No matter the excuse, check for proof. Always ensure that your staff are aware of the personal leave policy and it’s a good idea to send out reminders and refreshers outlining the notice they must give and what may be required – medical certificates for instance. 

Keep it fun, keep it responsible

Alcohol in the workplace can be a fun, bonding experience. But as always, know your limits. What are your workplace policies? What are the legal requirements? Put a limit on any alcohol consumed. You’re letting them celebrate a horse race – Keep it classy and collected. The employees need to go to back to work at full capacity afterwards. You want your employees to feel like they’re trusted and respected enough to deserve a treat. However, don’t feel obliged to let your team kick back at 3pm.

To all you lucky Victorians out there who are revelling in a state-wide public holiday, sit back relax and enjoy the show. Unless you’re not really into the race scene, then you can operate on a public holiday – just make sure you’re aware of rights and responsibilities.

Do I have to pay anything to my staff if I am based in Victoria?

Underpayment and grievance are never fun to deal with and can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for both parties. To combat and avoid these issues you must make sure that you are aware of your obligations. Public holidays attract fun, but they also attract penalty rates! If you have full-time or part-time employee in Victoria covered by an Award, then the Award will prescribe an employee’s public holiday entitlement depending on whether do or don’t work the public holiday. For Award Free employees who are not required to work on the public holiday you should look into section 116 of the Fair Work Act 2009. To save you some time we have inserted the clause below:

“…an employee is absent from his or her employment on a day or part-day that is a public holiday, the 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.”

What this clause essentially means is that if the public holiday falls on a day the employee would have normally worked then the employee still needs to be paid their ordinary rate of pay as if it was any ordinary day.

If however you have employees (this includes permanents AND casuals) required to work on the public holiday then they will need to be paid the public holiday penalty rates stipulated in the modern award or enterprise agreement that covers them.

If you have any questions relating to leave policies and alcohol in the workplace, our Telephone Advisory Team (TAS) is available 24/7 to ensure your Melbourne Cup day runs as smoothly as possible.