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Sometimes employees are required to work for only part of a public holiday.

The National Employment Standards provide that employees are:

  • entitled to be absent from work on a public holiday
  • paid their base rate of pay for their ordinary hours on that day.

Many awards say that employees get paid a penalty rate for time spent working on a public holiday.

If an employee works part of a public holiday and their award contains penalty rates for public holidays, they’ll be paid for the time they work at the penalty rate. They’ll be paid their base rate of pay for their remaining ordinary hours on the public holiday.

To calculate public holiday penalty rates, use our Pay and Conditions Tool.


Stasia is a full-time retail assistant covered by the Retail Award. She usually works 8 hours a day.

Stasia is asked to work on the Australia Day public holiday. She works for 4 hours.

Because the public holiday is a day that Stasia would usually be working, she's entitled to her base rate of pay for that day.

The Retail Award says that full-time and part-time employees working on a public holiday are paid 225% of the base rate of pay for the time worked.

Stasia is paid 225% for four hours and her base rate of pay for 4 hours.

Minimum engagement

Many awards set out minimum engagement periods and/or minimum payment entitlements for some or all employees. 

These do vary from award to award. Check the relevant award for more information on the applicable penalty rates that apply for working on a public holiday. 

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Page reference No: K700235