As the hot cross buns and chocolate eggs dominate the promotional sections of retail stores across the country and the Easter public holidays are just around the corner, it is also the time that Australian Muslims are celebrating Ramadan.  These distinct celebrations of religion and community are overlapping this year, so it is not surprising that more ACAPMA members are seeking clarification on these questions; Can public holidays be swapped?  Can Easter and Christmas be swapped for Ramadan?

The concept of the public holidays in the employment system is to provide employees with the time away from work to celebrate special days, like Labour Day or Melbourne Cup Day or Easter or AFL Grand Final or Christmas, with friends and family.  If staff are working on these special days they receive a penalty or higher rate of pay.

For some Australians some public holidays do not hold the same family and cultural significance, while at the same time there are special cultural religious and community days that are not recognised as public holidays such as; Eid al-Fitr (1/5/2022) and Eid al-Adha (9-13/7/2022) or Diwali (24/10/2022).

So can public holidays be “swapped”

“Yes it is possible to swap public holidays, but there are some things that need to be well understood and there are formal communications that will need to be undertaken to ensure that compliance is still met” explains ACAPMAs Elisha Radwanowski.

A public holiday may be swapped or substituted if the employment instrument provides for it.

In the fuel industry;

“For fuel industry workers it is permitted to swap public holidays.  Any such swap should be documented in full and should address the rates that will apply on each of the day, both the original public holiday and the swapped public holiday” adds Elisha.

For example, for a permanent staff member;

Dear Mo,

Further to our recent conversation this letter is to confirm the business has accepted your request to swap some public holidays.  Please see below for how this swap will impact your work and payment on those days as agreed.

 Public Holiday Good Friday 15/4/2022 to be  swapped with Edi al-Fitr 1/5/2022.

-Any work on 15/4/2022 will be as a normal day as will be pay (usual Friday rates apply not public holiday rates).

-As a permanent employee usually scheduled to work on a Saturday if you choose to take the day off on 1/5/2022 you will receive payment as if you had been at work and the day will be recorded as a public holiday not as any kind of leave

-Any work on 1/5/2022 will be paid as a public holiday at public holiday rates.

 In the event of your employment ending for any reason before 1/5/2022 this agreement will default back to standard operation so  any work undertaken on 15/4/2022 will be subject to penalty rates and an adjustment to pay will be made.

 If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

“It is important to note that the agreement needs to be comprehensive and written and address all of the circumstances, including what would happen if the employees employment ended, by termination or resignation etc, prior to the swapped day occurring” continues Elisha.

“This gets more complicated with casual staff but is possible” adds Elisha.

For example, for a casual staff member;

Dear Mo,

Further to our recent conversation this letter is to confirm the business has accepted your request to swap some public holidays.  Please see below for how this swap will impact your work and payment on those days as agreed.

 Public Holiday Good Friday 15/4/2022 to be  swapped with Edi al-Fitr 1/5/2022.

-Any work on 15/4/2022 will be as a normal day as will be pay (usual Friday rates apply not public holiday rates).

-Any work on 1/5/2022 will be paid as a public holiday at public holiday rates.

 In the event of your employment ending for any reason before 1/5/2022 this agreement will default back to standard operation so  any work undertaken on 15/4/2022 will be subject to penalty rates and an adjustment to pay will be made.

 If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Public Holiday Basics

For more on the Easter Public Holidays including how public holidays work generally see; https://acapmag.com.au/2022/03/easter-public-holidays/

Here to Help

Through the year ACAPMA Employment Professionals are available to assist members via employment@acapma.com.au.

This article is general in nature and covers things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation by calling 1300 160 270 and speaking to one of ACAPMA Employment Professionals its free for members. ACAPMA membership is affordable at only $810 per year for a single site and valuable with sites gaining HR advice support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts.

Visit: https://acapma.com.au/membership/   to apply for ACAPMA membership.

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)
ACAPMA

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