Australia Day public holiday entitlements guide 2021

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EmployerEmployee / worker

wa_image_small.jpg This information is only relevant to employers and employees in the WA state industrial relations system – sole traders, unincorporated partnerships, unincorporated trusts and some incorporated or not for profit organisations. Find out more on the Guide to who is in the WA state system page.

If you operate or are employed by a Pty Ltd business – you can find information on this topic on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

In Western Australia, the public holiday for Australia Day in 2021 is Tuesday 26 January.

Get the right information

An overview is provided below on the public holiday entitlements for Australia Day 2021 for:

  • Award free employees
  • Shop and Warehouse (Wholesale and Retail Establishments) Award
  • Restaurant, Tearoom and Catering Workers Award
  • Hairdressers Award.

If your WA award is one that has a Wageline WA award summary, check the WA award summary for details or contact Wageline. For other WA awards, view your award on the WA Industrial Relations Commission website.

Wageline is available on 1300 655 266 to answer public holiday questions.

Award free employees

Full time and part time employees

Award free full time and part time employees who would normally work on Tuesday 26 January 2021 but who are not required to work solely because it is a public holiday, are entitled to be paid for that day.

There are no minimum entitlements to additional rates of pay for working on a public holiday for award free employees, including Tuesday 26 January 2021. However, award free employees may have contracts of employment which specify other arrangements for payment and paid time off for public holidays. 

Visit the Minimum pay rates for award free employees page for minimum rates of pay. 

Casual employees

There are no minimum entitlements to additional rates of pay for award free casual employees working on a public holiday, including Tuesday 26 January 2021. However, award free employees may have contracts of employment which specify other arrangements for payment on public holidays.

Visit the Minimum pay rates for award free employees page for minimum rates of pay. 

Shop and Warehouse (Wholesale and Retail Establishments) Award

Full time and part time employees

Full time and part time employees who would normally be required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021 but who are not required to work because it is a public holiday, are entitled to be paid for that day. If a full time or part time employee is required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021, public holiday pay rates will apply. See the Shop and Warehouse Award WA award summary for public holiday rates of pay.

The Shop and Warehouse Award also provides that when a public holiday falls on an accrued day off (known as a ‘rostered day off’ under the award), an employee is to be compensated in one of the following methods by agreement between the employer and employee:

  • payment of an additional day’s wages, or
  • another day shall be allowed with pay within twenty eight days, or
  • have another day added to their annual leave entitlement.

Example

Harriet works 19 days over a four-week cycle (8 hours per day) and has a rostered day off every fourth Tuesday. In 2021, the Australia Day public holiday under the award (Tuesday 26 January) falls on Harriet's rostered day off. To compensate for this, Harriet and her employer can agree that Harriet:

  • receive payment of an additional day's wage,
  • take another rostered day off within 28 days, or
  • have another day added to her annual leave entitlement.

The Shop and Warehouse Award also provides that when a public holiday falls on a day that a full time or part time employee is usually required to work less than one fifth of their ordinary weekly hours of duty, the employee is entitled to time off duty without deduction of pay equivalent to the difference between the time usually worked on that day and one fifth of their ordinary weekly hours. The following examples illustrate how this works.

Example 1

Sue Lee is a full time employee who works an average of 38 hours per week. One fifth of Sue Lee's ordinary weekly hours are therefore 7.6 hours (38 divided by 5). Sue Lee normally works Wednesday to Sunday each week in a small retail shop.

Tuesday 26 January 2021 is the Australia Day public holiday. As the public holiday falls on a day that Sue Lee is usually required to work less than one fifth of her weekly hours (in this case no hours) Sue Lee is entitled to paid time off duty equivalent to 7.6 hours. This time off duty represents the difference between the time she usually works on a Tuesday (0 hours) and one fifth of her ordinary weekly hours (7.6 hours).

The time off duty may be taken at a time that is mutually agreed between the employer and employee, or it may be taken in conjunction with a period of annual leave.

Example 2

Jeremy is a part time employee who works an average of 30 hours per week. One fifth of Jeremy's ordinary hours is therefore 6 hours (30 divided by 5). Jeremy normally works 4 hours on a Tuesday.

Jeremy's employer is closed on Tuesday 26 January 2021. Jeremy is entitled to be paid for the 4 hours he would normally have worked on that Tuesday, and additionally, he is entitled to time off duty equivalent to 2 hours. The time off duty represents the difference between the time he ordinarily works on a Tuesday (4 hours) and one fifth of his ordinary weekly hours (6 hours).

The time off duty may be taken at a time that is mutually agreed between the employer and employee, or it may be taken in conjunction with a period of annual leave.

Casual employees

Casual employees who are required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021 must be paid at public holiday rates.

Restaurant, Tearoom and Catering Workers Award

Full time employees

Full time employees who would normally be required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021 but who are not required to work because it is a public holiday, are entitled to be paid for that day.  If a full time employee is required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021 public holiday rates will apply.  Please see the Restaurant, Tearoom and Catering Workers Award WA award summary for public holiday pay rates.

If any public holiday under the award falls on an employee's non-working day (known as a 'rostered day off'), the public holiday is observed on the next rostered working day. In this situation the next rostered working day is considered to be a public holiday, while the non-working day is not. If the employee is required to work on the next rostered working day they are entitled to be paid at public holiday rates of pay.

Example

Cassandra is a full time chef who works from Wednesday to Sunday each week.

In 2021, the Australia Day public holiday falls on Tuesday 26 January. As this is a non-working day for Cassandra, the public holiday is observed on her next rostered working day. Cassandra is therefore entitled to a paid day off on Wednesday 27 January 2021. If she is required to work on this day, public holiday pay rates will apply.

Part time employees

Part time employees who would normally be required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021, but who are not required to work because it is a public holiday, are entitled to be paid for that day. If a part time employee is required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021, public holiday pay rates will apply.

If a part time employee would not normally be required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021, there are no additional public holiday entitlements.

Casual employees

Casual employees who are required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021 must be paid at public holiday rates.

Hairdressers Award

Full time employees

Full time employees who would normally be required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021 but who are not required to work because it is a public holiday, are entitled to be paid for that day. If a full time employee is required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021, public holiday pay rates will apply. Please see the Hairdressers Award WA award summary for public holiday pay rates.

If Tuesday 26 January 2021 falls on a full time employee’s non-working day (referred to as a ‘rostered day off’), then the rostered day off is to be taken on the employee’s next following working day, or by mutual agreement, another day within the same week.

Alternatively, the award allows the employer and employee to agree on the employee accumulating up to five rostered days off in any given year, which may be taken at a mutually agreed time.

Example

Nathan is a full time hairdresser and works Wednesday to Saturday each week (9.5 hours per day).

In 2021, the Australia Day public holiday falls on Tuesday 26 January. As Tuesday is a non-working day for Nathan (i.e. a rostered day off), Nathan is entitled to another paid day off on his next working day, which is Wednesday 27 January 2021. Alternatively, Nathan and his employer may agree the paid day off be taken on another day that week, or another mutually convenient time.

Part time employees

Part time employees who would normally be required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021 but who are not required to work because it is a public holiday, are entitled to be paid for that day. If a part time employee is required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021, public holiday pay rates will apply.

If a part time employee would not normally be required to work on 26 January 2021, there are no additional public holiday entitlements.

Casual employees

Casual employees who are required to work on Tuesday 26 January 2021 must be paid at public holiday rates.

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