With the long weekend coming up, many companies will be wondering how to apply and interpret the Public Holiday provisions in the Main Agreement. In this article, prepared by SEIFSA’s Industrial Relations Division, the application of Public Holidays is clarified.  

All the Public Holidays specified in the Public Holidays Act are paid holidays for employees covered by the Main Agreement.

Employees covered by the Agreement are not required to work on a Public Holiday and are entitled to full pay if the day falls on an ordinary working day. Companies working a Monday to Friday work week are not required to pay employees for a Public Holiday if it falls on a non-working day, for example Saturday (24 September 2022) unless employees work on that day.

Working on a paid Public Holiday

Where an employee works on a paid Public Holiday the employee is entitled to:

  • The rate of pay for an ordinary shift; plus
  • One-and-a-third times the hourly rate for the hours worked.

If an employee works overtime i.e., hours in excess of the normal hours on that day, then he/she is entitled to an additional two-and-a-half times the hourly rate for those extra or overtime hours.

Where a Public Holiday falls on a Sunday

Public Holiday’s falling on a Sunday will be observed as a paid public holiday the following Monday. Employees who are called-in to work on a Sunday, which happens to be a Public Holiday, will be paid at Sunday rates i.e., double-time.

The one exception to this rule is where Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. Employees working on Christmas Day, which happens to be a Public Holiday, will be paid at the Public Holiday rate. This is due to the next day being Day of Goodwill.

Paid Public Holidays and shift workers

Difficulty often occurs where employees work a two or three-shift system, especially where part of the shift falls on the Public Holiday. In such a case, the worker will be paid for the shift before, during or after their shift as if it were a paid Public Holiday. Therefore, the whole shift, if not worked through the Public Holiday, irrespective of where it falls, will be paid on Public Holiday rates. Where the employee works overtime on that particular shift, they must be paid at two-and-a-half times for the overtime hours.

For example, a night-shift employee starts his shift at, say 18:00 on Thursday, 15 June 2022 and ends his shift on Friday, 16 June 2022. The part of the shift from midnight onwards falls on the Public Holiday. If the employee’s next shift starts at 18:00 on 16 June 2022, the option is to treat either the whole shift starting on 15 June or the whole shift starting on 16 June 2022 as the public holiday.

Annual leave and Public Holidays

If a Public Holiday falls within an employee’s annual leave on a day which would have been a normal working day, then the leave period must be extended by one day with full pay for the day. Where Public Holiday’s fall on a non-working day then the annual leave is not extended.

Public Holiday during periods of short-time or lay-off

Any Public Holiday during a period of short-time or lay-off must be regarded as falling on an ordinary working day, and the employee must be paid at the ordinary hourly rate for that day.

Work-in-time arrangements to extend Public Holidays

Management and employees may agree to work time in, so that designated normal working days may be treated as paid holidays, thereby extending existing public holidays and creating long weekends. For example, 16 June 2022 falls on Thursday. The workforce may work on an elected non-working a such as a Saturday, in return for a paid holiday on Friday 17 June 2022. Requirements to implement this arrangement are management support, a 75 percent positive ballot amongst the workforce and an exemption from the Council.

Absence after or before a Public Holiday

Where an employee is absent the day before or the day after a Public Holiday, the employee does not lose his/her entitlement to be paid for the public holiday. However, this does not absolve him/her from appropriate disciplinary action if the reasons for the absence do not validate his/her absence.

Where management requires further assistance, they should contact SEIFSA’s Industrial Relations Division (011) 298-9400.