An employer and employee may agree that an entire public holiday will be observed on another day for the employee.

Transferring part of a public holiday

Employees working shifts that span two days can agree with their employer in writing (it can be in an employment agreement) to transfer the public holiday so that it covers one whole shift.

The ‘day’ a public holiday is transferred to must be a period of 24 hours that begins or ends on the actual public holiday and includes the whole of a shift the employee is due to work.

The reason for the transfer can’t be to avoid paying the employee time and a half for working on a public holiday or to avoid providing them with an alternative holiday (although this may be the effect of the transfer).

Two shifts over a public holiday

An employee is scheduled to work from Sunday night at 7pm to Monday morning at 3am (Shift 1) and Monday happens to be a public holiday. They’re scheduled to work the same shift beginning on Monday night and finishing on Tuesday morning (Shift 2).

The employer and employee could agree to transfer the public holiday to the start of shift 2 (which still begins on the actual public holiday). If the public holiday is transferred in this way, the employee would get:

  • payment at the rate appropriate to Shift 1 with no public holiday time and a half payment, and
  • their relevant daily pay or average daily pay for Shift 2, if the employee doesn’t work that shift, or
  • if the employee does work that shift, the greater of time and a half of their regular pay (excluding penal rates) or, if applicable, time and a half of their average daily pay as it relates to time actually worked on the day (excluding penal rates), compared with their regular pay in addition to any penal rates they get for working on the day and an alternative holiday.

Workplace policies against transferring public holidays

An employer may have a workplace policy stating that they will not consider requests to transfer public holidays. This may be about requests to transfer part or whole of the public holiday and may cover all or part of their business. As part of their good faith obligations, an employer should consult with their employees on the development of this policy.

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Penny Varley

Payroll Administrator