Public Holiday Entitlements Can Be Confusing.

What do you have to pay a part-time employee on a public holiday?

To answer this question, ask if the employee would normally work on the day designated as a public holiday? If the answer is yes then you will have to pay them at the normal base rate of pay for the hours that they would normally have worked. If the employee does not normally work on that day then no payment is due. Note that the prorate calculation used to determine annual leave entitlements does not apply.

Can an employer ask an employee to work on a Public Holiday?

In asking your employee to work on a public holiday, the request (or refusal thereof) must be deemed to be reasonable. The National Employment Standard had determined a test to determine what is ‘reasonable’. This includes the nature of the work performed and the operational needs of the business, the employee’s personal and family situation, whether the employee is entitled to receive addition compensation by way of overtime, penalty rates etc and duration of the notice given.  An employee has the right to refuse the work request if that refusal is reasonable in nature. Note that to penalise an employee who reasonably refuses to work on a public holiday can be viewed as discrimination.

What do I have to pay an employee who works on a public holiday?

Again this is a confusing area. The Fair Work Act and the National Employment Standard do not make any reference to penalty rates other then the determination in the ‘reasonability’ test. Accordingly, it is the modern award that determines the rate of pay for working on a public holiday. An award free employee would therefore be entitled to the rate of pay specified under their employment contract. Note that the employee is entitled to refuse to work on a public holiday if the pay rate (or other compensation) does not adequately compensate them for this work and the subsequent loss of entitlement.