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Circular 2012/2: Public holidays

The purpose of this circular is to remind Australian Government employers of their obligations in relation to public holidays, and highlight recent issues that have arisen in certain jurisdictions as a result of state and territory public holiday legislation.


  1. Section 115(1)(a) of the Fair Work Act 2009 lists the eight national public holidays that apply to all national system employees, via the National Employment Standards.
  2. In addition section 115(1)(b) states that employees are entitled to be absent on days, or part days, declared as public holidays under state or territory legislation in the locality where the employee works, for example Canberra Day in the ACT and Melbourne Cup Day in Victoria.
  3. While an agency enterprise agreement cannot exclude the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009, it can address the entitlements applicable for work conducted on public holidays.

The Holidays Act 1910 (South Australia)

  1. The Holidays Act 1910 (SA) is the legislation declaring public and bank holidays in South Australia (SA).
  2. The Australian Government Solicitor recently released an Express Law article highlighting a potential issues with payments made to SA employees who work on Sundays.
  3. The inclusion of Sunday in Schedule 2 of the Holidays Act 1910 (SA) results in every Sunday nominally being a public holiday or bank holiday in SA.
  4. Agencies are advised to check their Enterprise Agreements to determine the appropriate rate of pay for employees working in South Australia on Sundays and seek further advice if necessary.

The Holidays Act 1983 (Queensland)

  1. In Queensland, the Holidays Act 1983(Qld) provides for the observance of public, bank and show holidays.
  2. Recently the Queensland government undertook a review of the spread and allocation of public holidays in Queensland, which has resulted in changed to the Holidays Act 1983 (Qld).
  3. From 2012 the Queen’s birthday public holiday has been moved from June to the first Monday in October.
  4. As a transitional measure the Queensland government has appointed a one-off Queen’s Diamond Jubilee holiday for Monday 11 June 2012 to allow for planned community and sporting activities to continue without disruption.
  5. Agencies should ensure these arrangements are applied, consistent with agency agreements, to the relevant workforces.

Further advice

  1. Should you require further information or assistance on this matter, please contact the Workplace Relations Policy team on (02) 6202 3995.

Helen Bull

Group Manager

Workplace Relations Group

7 March 2012

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018