Employees may change public holidays to the day of their choice

Apr 13, 2022 Employment Laws
Employees may change public holidays to the day of their choice

An employer and employee can agree to substitute a public holiday (or part-day public holiday) for another day. In other words, employees may change public holidays to the day of their choice. Penalty rates are only applied to substitute days that are considered public holidays. An enterprise agreement or modern award typically outlines the details of a substitute public holiday.


The employee and employer can agree upon substituting a public holiday if the award or agreement permits it. Below is an example of how employees may change public holidays to the day of their choice in the General Retail Industry Award 2020 [MA000004].


1. Substitution of the public holiday agreement

Under the NES, an employer or employee may agree to swap out a public holiday for another day. Additionally, an employer and employee may agree to substitute another part-day for a part-day that, under the NES, would otherwise be a part-day holiday. 

2. Payment for work on a public holiday or substitute day

Those who work on a public holiday or a substituted public holiday are entitled to the public holiday penalty rate listed in Table 11. However, If an employee works on both a public and a substituted holiday, only one day is subject to this penalty rate. In this case, the employee can choose which one to receive at the public holiday penalty rate. 


Employers must also pay the public holiday penalty rate outlined in Table 11 – Penalty rates to employees who work part-day public holidays or substitute public holidays. If the employee works on both the part-day holiday and the substitute part-day, the public holiday penalty rate applies to only one of those days. Public holiday penalty rates are available to employees on their choice of part-days. 

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Interpreting the award or agreement to know whether you can substitute a public holiday can be challenging. However, getting the right advice from the get-go can help you mitigate these risks. 


The information contained in this blog is general in nature. If you are unsure how this applies to you, please contact us at VeiraMal Consulting. Our HR consultants will be happy to guide you through this. 


VeiraMal Consulting offers a wide range of HR advisory services and packages to employers and employees. You can view all our services and packages here.