30 Nov November Newsletter: Double Dip on Boxing Day Holiday a Win for Employees
Double Dip on Boxing Day Holiday a Win for Employees
With the Christmas and New Year breaks fast approaching, are you aware of your obligations where a public holidays falls on a weekend?
This year, Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, and this creates slightly different obligations for employers. In Queensland, the Holidays Act 1983 (Qld) (“Holidays Act”) was amended in 2011 to account for situations where Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day falls on a weekend. The effect of the amendments is that both the weekend day of the public holiday and the next business day are considered to be public holidays.
For the 2015 Christmas break this creates a situation where because Boxing Day falls on Saturday 26 December 2015, both that Saturday, and Monday 28 December 2015 are considered to be public holidays under the Holidays Act.
The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (“FW Act”) sets out the regular public holidays to which public holiday entitlements may apply. In addition, the FW Act also includes in the definition of “public holiday” days declared or prescribed under state and territory legislation, thereby including the additional public holidays set out in the Holidays Act.
The ultimate consequence is that the employee entitlements applying on public holidays under the FW Act will apply to both days –on Boxing Day, Saturday 26 December and Monday 28 December 2015. In Queensland, these are not substituted holidays and both are treated as public holidays.
Under the FW Act, employees are entitled to be absent on a public holiday. An employer can request an employee to work (if the request is reasonable), however the employee can refuse to work if the request is not reasonable or the refusal is reasonable. The FW Act sets out various factors to be considered when determining whether a request or refusal is reasonable.
In addition, if your employees are covered by a Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement, they may be entitled to additional benefits for the Boxing Day public holidays.
As an example, if you regularly roster a retail employee covered by the General Retail Award 2010 (“Award”) to work Saturdays – Wednesdays, they would be entitled to receive public holiday rates on both Saturday 26 December 2015 and Monday 28 December 2015, if they work on those days (excluding any substitution, in which case entitlements will still apply). Under the FW Act, if they don’t work on 26 December or 28 December (but are normally rostered to do so), they are still entitled to receive their base rate of pay. Different entitlements may apply under different Modern Awards or Enterprise Agreement, and you should check your employees’ entitlements carefully.
Different states and territories have different entitlements to public holidays throughout the year, and not all states and territories treat Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day in the same way. If you require advice about your obligations to your employees in relation to public holidays, or any other aspect of employment law, please contact us.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.