The Queen’s Birthday public holiday will be celebrated by most states and territories (except QLD and WA) on Monday the 11th of June. It is a well-known fact that all Australians love their public holidays. However, public holidays for many employers could mean one of two things: the sneaky “sickie” which turns a long weekend into a 4-day mini vacation or public holiday penalty rates for employees. So that everyone can enjoy the weekend, here is a quick public holiday cheat-sheet for employers:

What are the public holidays in Australia?

  • New Year’s Day (1st January)
  • Australia Day (26th January)
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Anzac Day (25th April)
  • Queen’s birthday holiday (varies depending on your state or territory)
  • Labour Day (varies depending on your state or territory)
  • Christmas Day (25th December)
  • Boxing Day (26th December)

When can an employee take a sick day?    

A full-time or part-time employee can take paid personal or carer’s leave where they are either:

  1. Not fit for work because of a personal illness, or personal injury, affecting themselves; or
  2. Required to provide care or support to a member of their immediate family, or a member of their household, because of a personal illness, injury or emergency affecting that person.

Anyone who wants to take paid personal or carer’s leave must advise you of the period, or expected period, of the leave as soon as practicable. This may be as simple as a phone call, SMS (if your policy allows) or email informing you that they will not be attending work.

While some workers may take the opportunity to score themselves a long weekend, you have the right to request medical evidence that the employee was absent for a legitimate reason. If you have any doubts over any medical certificates provided, you can seek further clarification from the doctor who signed it or even request that the employee provide a statutory declaration confirming their reason for their absence.

Can I force my employee to work on a public holiday?

As per section 114 of the Fair Work Act 2009, all employees have a right to be absent from work on a day that is a public holiday.

You can request for your employees to work on a public holiday, but that request must be reasonable. An employee may only refuse that request if:

  1. Your request is not reasonable; or
  2. Their refusal is reasonable.

When looking at whether a request (or refusal) to work on a public holiday is reasonable, the following factors are generally taken into account:

  • The operational requirements of the business
  • The employee’s personal circumstances (e.g. family or carer’s responsibilities)
  • Whether the employee could reasonably expect to be asked to work on the public holiday
  • Whether the employee would be compensated with penalty payments, overtime etc
  • The amount of notice in advance that you gave when making the request, and by the employee when refusing the request.

For more information on public holidays contact us today to chat to a workplace specialist.