Free Sign Up!
Contact Us
Back to Blog

SCHADS Award: Substituting Public Holidays

australian capital territory employee rights fair work hr 101 hr compliance new south wales northern territory public holiday queensland south australia tasmania victoria western australia Oct 19, 2023

Good news! Employees covered by the Social, Community, Home Care, and Disability Services Industry Award can now substitute their public holidays following a decision made by the Fair Work Commission. These new public holiday provisions will apply from the employees' first full pay period starting on or after 11 September 2023. 


So... what's changed?

  • An employee can now substitute a public holiday (or part of a public holiday) for a different day (or part of a different day).
  • The employee will then get a paid day off on the substituted day and will be required to work on the recognised public holiday.
  • If the employee is required to work on their substituted public holiday, public holiday penalties will apply.


These changes only entitle an employee to make a request to substitute a public holiday. The approval remains at the discretion of the employer. We recommend any such agreements are confirmed in writing. 


There are a variety of factors that an employer can assess to determine if an employee request is reasonable, they include the following:

  • The nature of the workplace and its operational requirements
  • The nature of work performed by the employee
  • The employees' personal circumstances (including family responsibilities)
  • Whether the employee is entitled to receive overtime payments/ penalty rates/ other compensation for working on a public holiday
  • The employees' type of employment (permanent or casual)
  • The amount of notice given by the employee to substitute the public holiday
  • The amount of notice given for refusal and any other relevant matters.


We recommend that employers plan ahead, as it is highly likely they will begin to receive requests from their employees to substitute their public holidays. This means informing employees of their expectation (if any) to work on public holidays and requesting adequate notice for requests so the employer has time to reasonably consider the request. Please be cautious when refusing any requests for substitution, as it is essential to ensure that the employer remains compliant with the Award and Fair Work.


Some Employers also offer this pro-actively. This has been seen more and more in relation to Australia Day for example. Or, enabling a culturally significant day for Australia, to be substituted for a culturally significant day from the individual employee's own culture and heritage. 


If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to the Employii team at [email protected]


For a full list of recognised public holidays in your state or territory, click here.


Author: Chelsea Finlay (HR Officer).