Our main office is based in NSW and we have recently opened a small office in Victoria. We’re aware that there are slightly different public holidays but want to try to ensure parity (where possible) across the two teams. As it stands, there are a couple of additional public holidays in Victoria. Can we harmonise them?
Under the National Employment Standards, an employee is entitled to be absent from work on a day that is a public holiday in the place where that employee is based for work purposes. An employment contract, modern award or enterprise agreement cannot provide for conditions that are less than these standards. That means your Victorian employees are entitled to take Victorian public holidays off.
You may request an employee to work on a public holiday but the employee may refuse this if either the request is not reasonable or their refusal is on reasonable grounds.
Factors that will go to whether a request or its refusal are reasonable include:
- the nature of the business and of the employee’s particular work;
- the employee’s personal or family circumstances;
- whether the employee will be compensated (e.g. overtime payments or penalty rates) for working on the public holiday, or whether they are paid at a level that reflects an expectation they will work on public holidays; and
- the amount of notice the employee is given before the public holiday.