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Everything businesses need to know about hours and penalty rates for the 2019 Australia Day public holiday

Dominic Powell /

Though it might feel like 2019 only just started, already business owners are facing a public holiday as Australia Day fast approaches.

Despite continuous and significant pushes by some Australians to change the date of Australia Day, or have the day abolished altogether, the public holiday on January 26 remains.

Additionally, in an attempt to further enshrine the contentious day in Australia’s modern history, Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently announced a ban on local councils holding citizenship ceremonies on alternate days.

The significant issues relating to the day, which is viewed by many as offensive and uninclusive to Indigenous Australians, has led to many SMEs boycotting the day, choosing to ignore the day as a public holiday altogether and work through it.

However, for the business owners and their staff who choose to take the day off, there are some things you’ll need to be across, namely when the public holiday falls this year, and what penalty rates you’ll need to pay your staff.

With January 26 landing on a Saturday in 2019, the recognised day for the public holiday will actually be the following Monday (January 28). This is great news for any businesses or employees who are part of the growing movement of having a barbie and a beer on the day after Australia Day instead.

Keep in mind the Saturday is not considered a public holiday, so you will not need to pay public holiday rates for staff working on the Saturday.

For those coming in to work on January 28, a spate of new penalty rates will need to be respected for workers in the restaurant,  hospitality, pharmacy, fast food and retail industries. These changes came into effect in 2017.

Here are the rates you will be required to pay workers in these industries on the 2019 Australia Day public holiday, as per the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Restaurant award

Full-time and part-time workers

These workers are entitled to 225% of their usual hourly rate on public holidays.

Casual workers

There are no changes to public holiday loadings for casual restaurant staff, it remains at 250%.

Hospitality award

Full-time and part-time workers

Those covered by the hospitality award must be paid 225% of their standard hourly rate on public holidays.

Casual workers

Casual workers in hospitality must be paid at least 250% of their standard hourly rates.

Pharmacy award

Full-time and part-time workers

Full- and part-time workers are entitled to 225% of their standard rate on public holidays.

Casual workers

Casual pharmacy staff are entitled to 250% of their base rate.

Retail award

Full-time and part-time workers

Full- and part-time retail staff are entitled to 225% of the ordinary rate on public holidays.

Casual workers

Casual retail workers are entitled to a 250% loading.

Fast food award

Full-time and part-time workers

Full- and part-time workers are entitled to a 225% loading on public holidays.

Casual workers

Casuals are entitled to 250% of their standard rate for all hours worked on public holidays.

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the former features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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