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Easter weekend – which penalty rate applies?

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Easter weekend – which penalty rate applies?

Easter weekend – which penalty rate applies?

10 March 2021

Q  We have a number of restaurants in New South Wales and South Australia. With Easter coming up, we’re wondering whether we need to pay our kitchen and dining room staff the usual weekend rates or public holiday rates. What are the right pay rates over the Easter weekend?
A  Restaurant workers are usually covered by the Restaurant Industry Award (MA000119). This will be the one that applies to your employees, provided they’re not covered by the Hospitality Award, Registered Clubs Award or Fast Food Award.
As you will already know, pay rates depend on whether your workers are full-time, part-time or casual; as well as their age and level (with different rates from Introductory to Level 6).

Penalty rates also depend on whether they’re working between 10pm and midnight, or between midnight and 6am.

The award prescribes penalty rates for Saturday and Sunday work, as well as a penalty rate for work on public holidays.

The complicating factor is that whether a day is considered a public holiday or not depends on which state or territory the restaurant is in, because sections 114 – 116 of the Fair Work Act 2009 operate in conjunction with state or territory public holiday legislation.

The Fair Work Act states that Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays in all states and territories, but state and territory laws differ with regard to whether Easter Saturday and Sunday are declared to be public holidays.

In New South Wales, every day over the Easter weekend is a public holiday – Friday 2 April, Saturday, Sunday and Monday 5 April, so staff should be paid according to public holiday rates on all of those days.
The same applies in Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.  

But in South Australia, Easter Sunday is not deemed to be a public holiday, so normal Sunday pay rates apply on Sunday 4 April in SA, while public holiday rates apply on the Friday, Saturday and Monday.

The bottom line: Section 115(b) of the Fair Work Act states that any day declared as a public holiday by a state or territory government is to be observed as a public holiday in that state, territory, or a region of that state or territory. This means work performed on that holiday will be paid at the appropriate public holiday penalty rate prescribed by the applicable award or enterprise agreement.

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