Employers are often confused about how to pay their employees who work during the Easter break and whether an employee can refuse to work during this time.

In Queensland all of the days during the Easter period are declared as public holidays:

  • Good Friday – Friday 10 April
  • Easter Saturday – Saturday 11 April
  • Easter Sunday – Sunday 12 April
  • Easter Monday – Monday 13 April

Pay for work on a public holiday

The applicable enterprise agreement or modern award determines the penalty rates to be paid to an employee who works on a public holiday.

Where no enterprise agreement or modern award applies, the employment contract may provide for penalty rates.

Pay for work on Good Friday

Be aware that an enterprise agreement or modern award may impose a higher penalty rate for working on Good Friday than for other public holiday days.

What if an employee refuses to work over Easter?

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, an employee does not have to work on a public holiday. An employer can reasonably request an employee to work however an employee can refuse the request on “reasonable grounds”.

The following will be taken into account to determine if an employer’s request to work or an employee’s refusal of the request is reasonable:

  • the nature of the employer’s business and its operational requirements;
  • the nature of the employee’s work;
  • the employee’s personal circumstances, including family responsibilities;
  • whether the employee could reasonably expect that the employer might request work on the public holiday;
  • whether the employee is entitled to receive overtime payments, penalty rates or other compensation for, or a level of remuneration that reflects an expectation of, work on the public holiday;
  • the type of employment of the employee (for example, whether full-time, part-time, casual or shift work);
  • the amount of notice in advance of the public holiday given by the employer when making the request;
  • the amount of notice in advance of the public holiday given by the employee when refusing the request.

Payment for absence of a public holiday

An employee who is absent from work on the public holiday and would ordinarily be rostered on for that day must be paid their base rate of pay for their ordinary hours of work.

An employee who is not ordinary rostered on for the public holiday does not have to be paid.

For any queries about this or any other employment law matter please contact our employment law team here.