Employer’s Guide to Australian Public Holidays

When it comes to Australian public holidays, you may be unsure what your rights and obligations are as an employer. Read on to find the answers to a wide range of questions related to doing business on public holidays in Australia, from whether or not you can trade on a public holiday to whether you can ask your staff to come to work, and how to compensate them.

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Nationwide public holidays

Although Australian public holidays differ from state to state, the following holidays are public holidays in all Australian states and territories:
 

  • New Year’s Day
  • Australia Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Anzac Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

States may also have different regulations for public holidays that fall on a weekend. If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, some states schedule a public holiday on the following Monday instead or in addition. As an employer, it’s important to keep track of which public holidays may affect your staff and what rates of pay they are entitled to if they come into work on those days.

Public holidays by state

The Government provides a helpful list of public holidays for all states and territories. Whether you want to check when the Queen’s Birthday is observed in Queensland or look for a specific public holiday in Tasmania in 2022, please check the overview below for the official dates set by each state or territory:
 

Australian Capital Territory (2022 dates)

 

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • 3 January – New Year’s Day (extra day as New Year’s Day falls on a weekend)
  • 26 January – Australia Day
  • 14 March – Canberra Day
  • 15 April – Good Friday
  • 16 April – Easter Saturday
  • 17 April – Easter Sunday
  • 18 April – Easter Monday
  • 25 April – Anzac Day
  • 30 May – Reconciliation Day
  • 13 June – Queen’s Birthday
  • 3 October – Labour Day
  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – Boxing Day
  • 27 December – Christmas Day (extra day as Christmas Day falls on a weekend)

New South Wales (2022 dates)

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • 3 January – New Year’s Day (extra day as New Year’s Day falls on a weekend)
  • 26 January – Australia Day
  • 15 April – Good Friday
  • 16 April – Easter Saturday
  • 17 April – Easter Sunday
  • 18 April – Easter Monday
  • 25 April – Anzac Day
  • 13 June – Queen’s Birthday
  • 3 October – Labour Day
  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – Boxing Day
  • 27 December – Christmas Day (extra day as Christmas Day falls on a weekend)

Northern Territory (2022 dates)

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • 3 January – New Year’s Day (extra day as New Year’s Day falls on a weekend)
  • 26 January – Australia Day
  • 15 April – Good Friday
  • 16 April – Easter Saturday
  • 18 April – Easter Monday
  • 25 April – Anzac Day
  • 2 May – May Day
  • 13 June – Queen’s Birthday
  • 1 August – Picnic Day
  • 24 December – Christmas Eve (from 7pm to midnight)
  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – Christmas Day (extra day as Christmas Day falls on a weekend)
  • 27 December – Boxing Day (replacement day for Boxing Day)
  • 31 December – New Year’s Eve (from 7pm to midnight)

Queensland (2022 dates)

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • 3 January – New Year’s Day (extra day as New Year’s Day falls on a weekend)
  • 26 January – Australia Day
  • 15 April – Good Friday
  • 16 April – Day after Good Friday
  • 17 April – Easter Sunday
  • 18 April – Easter Monday
  • 25 April – Anzac Day
  • 2 May – Labour Day
  • 10 August – Royal Queensland Show (Brisbane local area only)
  • 3 October – Queen’s Birthday
  • 24 December – Christmas Eve (from 6pm to midnight)
  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – Boxing Day
  • 27 December – Extra Christmas Day public holiday

South Australia (2022 dates)

  • 3 January – New Year’s Day (replacement day as New Year’s Day falls on a weekend)
  • 26 January – Australia Day
  • 14 March – Adelaide Cup Day (subject to confirmation)
  • 15 April – Good Friday
  • 16 April – Easter Saturday
  • 18 April – Easter Monday
  • 25 April – Anzac Day
  • 13 June – Queen’s Birthday
  • 3 October – Labour Day
  • 24 December – Christmas Eve (from 7pm to midnight)
  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – Christmas Day (extra day as Christmas Day falls on a weekend)
  • 27 December – Boxing Day/Proclamation Day
  • 31 December – New Year’s Eve (from 7pm to midnight)

Tasmania (2022 dates)

  • 3 January – New Year’s Day (replacement day as New Year’s Day falls on a weekend)
  • 26 January – Australia Day
  • 14 February – Royal Hobart Regatta (only in some areas of the state)
  • 14 March – Eight Hours Day
  • 15 April – Good Friday
  • 18 April – Easter Monday
  • 19 April – Easter Tuesday – Public Service only
  • 25 April – Anzac Day
  • 13 June – Queen’s Birthday
  • 7 November – Recreation Day (the parts of the state that do not observe Royal Hobart Regatta)
  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – Boxing Day
  • 27 December – Christmas Day (extra day as Christmas Day falls on a weekend)

Victoria (2022 dates)

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • 3 January – New Year’s Day (extra day as New Year’s Day falls on a weekend)
  • 26 January – Australia Day
  • 14 March – Labour Day
  • 15 April – Good Friday
  • 16 April – Saturday before Easter Sunday
  • 17 April – Easter Sunday
  • 18 April – Easter Monday
  • 25 April – Anzac Day
  • 13 June – Queen’s Birthday
  • Friday before AFL Grand Final (TBC – dependent on AFL schedule)
  • 1 November – Melbourne Cup
  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – Boxing Day
  • 27 December – Christmas Day (extra day as Christmas Day falls on a weekend)

Western Australia (2022 dates)

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • 3 January – New Year’s Day (extra day as New Year’s Day falls on a weekend)
  • 26 January – Australia Day
  • 7 March – Labour Day
  • 15 April – Good Friday
  • 18 April – Easter Monday
  • 25 April – Anzac Day
  • 6 June – Western Australia Day
  • 26 September – Queen’s Birthday (may differ in some regional areas of WA)
  • 25 December – Christmas Day
  • 26 December – Boxing Day/Extra Christmas Day public holiday
  • 27 December – Extra Boxing Day public holiday

Local and regional public holidays

In Australia, many regions have local public holidays restricted to certain areas, such as the Royal National Agricultural (RNA) Show Day on the second Wednesday in August in Queensland’s Greater Brisbane area, or Western Australia Day, a public holiday celebrated only in Western Australia on the first Monday in June each year. Companies based in the affected Local Government Area usually close during these regional public holidays and their staff do not have to work. The same regulations apply as for national public holidays when it comes to trading and asking employees to work on those days.

Trading on public holidays

If you want to open your business and trade on a public holiday, you must ensure that your business is commercially permitted to do so. The Australian state and territory governments have each specified that some Australian public holidays are restricted trading days on which only certain businesses can operate unless they have an exemption. Refer to the following websites for official information on public holiday trading in each state and territory:
 

Can I ask staff to work on public holidays?

Some industries, like the retail sector and the hospitality industry, tend to remain open on most public holidays. This means that staff may be required to work on Australian public holidays providing your request is reasonable. Most companies offer a higher rate of pay on public holidays to reward and incentivise staff. To boost your employer brand and keep staff happy, try to apply the following when it comes to working on public holidays:

  • Take into consideration your staff’s family commitments and personal circumstances.
  • Offer a bonus payment or higher base rate for work on public holidays.
  • Give enough notice when requesting someone to work on Australian public holidays.
  • Set up a roster to rotate employees working on Australian holidays to keep things fair.
  • Accept it if an employee makes use of their right to decline to work on a public holiday.

Bear in mind that the Australian National Employment Standards (NES) protect a worker’s right to reasonably refuse to work on a public holiday and will guarantee payment when they are absent from work because of a public holiday. This means employees are protected from adverse action for seeking to use their workplace right to reasonably refuse to work on public holidays in Australia.

Can I mandate staff to take leave on public holiday periods?

Many Australian businesses decide to shut down operations over the quiet Christmas and New Year period. If stipulated in your employment contracts, you may be able to ask employees to take leave on days that they would usually have worked in between the public holidays, for example, from 27 to 31 December. The Fair Work Ombudsman states that you are permitted to mandate such leave if this is laid out in the employee’s contract or registered agreement. A lot of workers are likely to see this as a bonus as they’ll get to spend time with their families over the festive period. Related: Australia Leads the Way on Family-Friendly, Flexible Jobs

Full-time, part-time and casual workers

Let’s take a look at the different rules for full-time, part-time and casual employees:
 
Full-time employees: receive a paid day off at their ordinary rate of pay on public holidays; as an employer, you can ask a full-time employee to work on a public holiday if your request is reasonable, and you are required to pay the relevant rate as stipulated in their agreement.
 
Part-time staff: have the same rights and entitlements as full-time employees, including the right to refuse to work on a public holiday if they have reasonable grounds for their refusal.
 
Casual workers: don’t have to work on public holidays, but if they do, they are only paid for hours worked and receive the pay rate stipulated in their award (which may include higher rates on public holidays).
 
So, as a general rule, your employees don’t have to work on Australian public holidays. However, you can ask them to do so if your request is reasonable and in line with Fair Work guidelines – but remember, they have a right to decline without fear of being penalised. What’s more, as some public holidays in Australia differ from state to state, it is recommended that you always check the official government pages for your state or territory for the latest information.

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