Public Holiday Entitlements over Christmas
In early preparation to make arrangements to cover the Christmas Period staff-wise, many employers are unsure how the Public Holidays entitlement will work since Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day both fall over the weekend. What are employees’ Public Holiday entitlements over Christmas?
Public Holiday entitlements can be a source of much contention and confusion. The bottom line is that all employees are entitled to benefit from the public holidays as long as they have worked more than 40 hours in the 5 weeks preceding the public holiday.
This year, in 2010, we have 3 public holidays that fall on a weekend day. Where a public holiday falls on a weekend day, there is no automatic legal entitlement to have the next working day off in lieu of the Public Holiday. Christmas Day (25th December) falls on a Saturday, St Stephen's Day (26th December) falls on a Sunday and New Year's Day (1st January) falls on a Saturday. This means that Monday 27th December 2010, Tuesday the 28th 2010 and Monday 3rd January 2011 are not public holidays. When this happens employees are entitled to benefit from the holiday in the normal way:
- A paid day off within a month of the public holiday
- An additional day of annual leave
- An additional day's pay
- A paid day off on that day.
You can require your employees to attend work on the next working day following the Public Holiday(s), however you must ensure the employee receives one of the benefits specified above for the actual day on which the Public Holiday falls. Alternatively, it is entirely at the employer’s discretion to make a decision to give the next working day following the Public Holiday as a paid day off in lieu of the Public Holiday.
If an employee is part time, they must receive the same entitlement as a full time employee pro-rata’d at a rate of 1/5 of their normal working week once they have worked at least 40 hours in the preceding 5 weeks to the holiday. If an employee has varying hours each week, then the entitlement can be calculated as 1/5 of their normal working week averaged over the previous 13 weeks, or the total number hours worked on the last working day prior to the Public Holiday, whichever is more favourable for the employee.