REMINDER: Additional Public Holidays applicable in Queensland this Festive Season

With Christmas fast approaching, most employers would have already noticed that Queensland will observe an additional public holiday for Boxing Day this year. With 26 December falling on a Saturday, the Holidays Act 1983 – which governs the setting of public holidays in Queensland – specifies that an additional public holiday will be observed for Boxing Day on Monday, 28 December 2020. This means, in Queensland, BOTH dates of 26 December 2020 and 28 December 2020 will be recognised public holidays for Boxing Day. The typical benefits of public holidays subsequently apply to BOTH dates, not one date or the other.

Employers are also reminded that in 2019, Queensland Parliament passed legislation to enshrine 6pm – midnight on Christmas Eve as a public holiday across the State. This part-day public holiday applies across all industries, to all businesses, and will be observed again this year.

The public holidays which will apply in Queensland this Festive Season are as follows:

24 December 20206pm – midnight, ThursdayChristmas Eve (part-day)
25 December 2020FridayChristmas Day
26 December 2020SaturdayBoxing Day
28 December 2020MondayBoxing Day Holiday
1 January 2021FridayNew Year’s Day

As all of the above dates are public holidays (or a part-day public holiday), workers may reasonably refuse to perform shifts on these days and, in the case of award-covered employees, work performed on any of the above dates (or, with respect to 24 December, after 6pm) will attract the designated public holiday penalty. In most Modern Awards, this public holiday penalty is double time and a half but it is worth remembering that various awards in the hospitality and retail sectors had the public holiday penalty scaled backwards in recent years. Furthermore, in the case of the Nurses Award 2010, the public holiday penalty is only double time. Casual employees will usually be entitled to receive the casual loading in addition to the public holiday penalty but again, this would be determined by reference to the prevailing instrument.

As is typical of public holidays, permanent employees who would ordinarily have rostered hours on the above days, or part-day in the case of Christmas Eve, will be entitled to be absent without loss of pay, providing their employer does not reasonably require them to work.

Employers may wish to note that NSW, the ACT, Victoria and WA will also observe 26 December and 28 December as public holidays for Boxing Day this year while the NT, SA and Tasmania will only observe 28 December as the substitute public holiday for Boxing Day (making 26 December an ‘ordinary’ Saturday in those states/territories).

ES Clients who will be ‘open for business’ across the upcoming public holidays are encouraged to contact us on (07) 3220 3500 before 23 December, to clarify employees’ entitlements.

Looking beyond this Festive Season, we have also made available the complete 2021 Public Holiday calendar for Queensland – Subscribers, please login to your online account; go to ‘Fact Sheets’, then scroll to the ‘Pay’ subheading towards the bottom of the page. Note that next year, there will be a whopping six public holidays (plus a part-day public holiday) across the Christmas/New Year period and that the RNA Show Holiday (applicable in the Brisbane area only) will return to its traditional Wednesday, on August 11. The Anzac Day public holiday will also be observed as a substitute day on Monday, 26 April 2021, instead of Sunday, 25 April.