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All about the one-off public holiday for the "National Day of Mourning"

Australians are getting an extra public holiday in 2022, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announcing that there will be a "National Day of Mourning" for Queen Elizabeth II on 22 September - observed as a public holiday. We answer all your burning questions here. 

Will my workplace be closed?

That is up to your employer. However, if you are required to work, you should generally receive penalty rates for all hours worked on Thursday 22 September. Public holiday penalty rates are usually calculated at 2.5x your ordinary wage (double time and a half), but this may differ under your award or agreement so check your rate here

Will I get paid?

Permanent part-time or full-time employees who normally work on the day a public holiday falls will be paid their base pay rate for the ordinary hours they would have worked if they had not been away because of the public holiday.

The base pay rate doesn’t include:

  • any incentive-based payments
  • bonuses
  • loadings
  • monetary allowances
  • overtime or
  • penalty rates

An employee's roster can't be changed to deliberately avoid this payment.

If your boss requires you to work, your award or agreement will likely provide for alternative compensation such as

  • penalty rates
  • a substitute paid day off or
  • an additional day of annual leave

If you are a casual, you won't be paid if you get the day off. But if you are required to work, you should receive penalty rates for all the hours you work. Public holiday penalty rates are usually calculated at 2.5x your ordinary wage (double time and a half), but this may differ under your award or agreement so check your rate here

What if my boss asks me to work, but I can't?

Your boss can ask you to work on a public holiday, but only if that request is "reasonable". And you can refuse to work, but only if that refusal is "reasonable".

The following need to be taken into account when deciding if a request is reasonable:

  • the employee's personal circumstances, (for example family responsibilities)
  • whether the employee will get more pay (for example penalty rates)
  • the needs of the workplace
  • the type of work the employee does
  • whether the employee's salary includes work on a public holiday
  • whether the employee is full-time, part-time, casual or a shiftworker
  • how much notice the employee was given about working
  • the amount of notice the employee gives that they refuse to work.

Because the amount of notice given is a factor in determining whether the request to work is reasonable, we recommend clarifying your employer's expectations about the public holiday as soon as possible. Keep in mind that your usual childcare arrangements may not be available.

What if I had already booked leave?

Your annual leave, sick or carers leave balance should not be reduced on the public holiday. You may need to talk to your employer or administrator to claim back the day of annual or carers leave. 

Do we still get the Queen's Birthday Holiday?

Yes! The Queen's Birthday public holiday will now be called the King's Birthday public holiday, but nothing else changes. 

Can businesses charge me a "public holiday surcharge"?

Yes, but we recommend that if they do you should speak to the workers about whether they are actually getting penalty rates. If they are not, the business may be breaking the law and ripping you off. 

Is this weird?

Yes! Very! But not really that much weirder than a public holiday for a horse race, so let's just go with it. 

You get the public holiday regardless of your personal feelings towards the monarchy, so don't feel like you have to explain your plans to anyone. And as always, if you experience problems at work talk to your union delegate. 

Don't forget! Friday 23 September is the "Grand Final Friday" Public Holiday in Victoria! The same rules apply - enjoy your extra long weekend!

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