Employers reminded to prepare for public holiday

VFF members are reminded that the Prime Minister has declared Thursday 22 September as a National Day of Mourning for Queen Elizabeth II and a public holiday. This in addition to the existing Grand Final Eve public holiday on Friday 23 September.

Consequently, the VFF is advising farm employers to ensure they immediately plan for any impact on their business and remember to follow the National Employment Standards and any applicable Award to ensure their employees receive the correct entitlements.

The National Employment Standards provide that all employees are entitled to be absent from work on a public holiday. 

Permanent employees are entitled to receive payment for the public holiday at their base rate of pay for ordinary hours of work.  Part time employees are entitled to public holiday pay if they would normally be rostered for work on that day. Casual employees are entitled to public holiday pay if they were rostered on for work on that day.

Awards provide for additional payment to be made if employees work on a public holiday. Public holiday rates can be found by reading applicable Award:

It is important to remember that employees cannot be required to work on a public holiday. You can ask an employee to work on a public holiday, if the request is reasonable, but they may refuse a request to work if they have reasonable grounds.

Think about the following things before deciding if it is ‘reasonable’ to ask your employees to work on a public holiday.

  • what are the employee’s personal circumstances? Do they have family commitments or children they may need to look after?
  • are you offering the employee more money or penalty rates for giving up their public holiday?
  • do you really need someone at the workplace for this day?
  • how much notice have you given the employee before requesting they work on the public holiday?
  • what does the award or agreement say about working on public holidays?

VFF members requiring assistance with any workplace relations matter can call the VFF on 1300 882 833 and speak with our Workplace Relations Advisory Service.