Working public holidays? Make sure you’re getting the right pay

Published: 14/04/2022
Category: Workers rights
Published: 14/04/2022
Category: Workers rights

Some workers in Australia may be looking forward to a long weekend off work. But for many casual workers, it could well be a busy few days.  

If you’re a casual worker putting in hours this public holiday, you should make sure you’re being paid your weekend and public holiday penalty rates. 

The best way to make sure you’re always getting paid correctly for your work is to be a union member.

What are penalty rates?

Penalty rates are extra payments that you receive on top of your regular wage and are usually calculated as a percentage of your regular wage.  

They are intended to compensate you for hours that you spend working at inconvenient times, like on public holidays and weekends.  

Public holidays should pay higher rates than weekends, so if your payslip isn’t showing higher amounts than on ordinary weekdays, it might be time to call your union.  

To see the exact penalty rates that apply to you, check the Award or agreement that covers your work or call the Australian Unions Support Centre on 1300 486 466.

State and territory public holidays

Although there are some national public holidays that happen on the same day across Australia, other public holidays fall on different dates. 

For example, Labour Day (a fantastic holiday with a strong union history) is celebrated in different months depending on which state you are in. 

You can find a list of all the dates in the states and territories here.   

It is important to note that what counts as a public holiday depends on where you are based for work and not where you a working on the day of the public holiday. 

So, if you are working in Sydney, but your employer is based in Melbourne and the day you’re working is Victoria’s Labour Day, then you are entitled to public holiday penalty rates.  

Some dodgy bosses use this to avoid paying state-based public holiday penalty rates by locating themselves across state borders – when they do this, it’s a form of wage-theft.

Winning higher wages and rates

Penalty rates were introduced in Australia after the union movement campaigned for them back in the 1940s.  

But union members refuse to sit around — we are still campaigning to defend and improve weekend and public holiday penalty rates, and prevent wage-theft. 

Australian Unions is made up of almost 2-million workers coming together to get things done. 

That means better wages than non-union members, the workplace conditions you deserve and support standing by if anything goes wrong.

Get a fair wage for a fair day’s work

Working public holidays? Make sure you’re getting the right pay

Working public holidays? Make sure you’re getting the right pay