Industrial Relations

FWO urging employers to check public holiday obligations: A guide to the Easter 2014 long weekend

Yolanda Redrup /

The Fair Work Ombudsman is urging employers to check penalty rates and other legal obligations in the lead up to the Easter long weekend.

With two long weekends over the next week and multiple public holidays, small business owners need to figure out their legal obligations quickly.

A FWO spokesperson told SmartCompany it is important for employers to understand their responsibilities over the break so they don’t inadvertently underpay their employees.

“Whether or not an employee is entitled to penalty rates on certain days depends on a number of things, including the industry and the job,” the spokesperson says.

“It’s quite common for there to be restrictions on trading on some public holidays, such as Good Friday. This is regulated by each state.”

Small business owners are able to find out more information from the FWO website, however we’ve put in the hard yards and put together an Easter 2014 long weekend trading guide.

Victoria

In Victoria Good Friday is a restricted trading day and on this day only exempt shops are permitted to open.

Businesses with 20 or fewer staff employed in the shop on a restricted trading day are allowed to open, as are businesses with fewer than 100 employees at any time during the seven days prior to Good Friday.

Other exemptions include chemists, petrol stations, restaurants, cafes, takeaway outlets, service providers and hire outlets like video stores.

For businesses which are allowed to open they should ensure any staff who are entitled to public holiday penalty rates are paid the appropriate rate.

Easter Saturday and Easter Monday are also considered public holidays, so penalty rates will also apply on those days for some businesses.

New South Wales

In New South Wales all four days are considered a public holiday.

In NSW businesses are restricted from trading on Good Friday and Easter Sunday (as well as ANZAC day later that week prior to 1pm).

Like Victoria, some businesses are exempt including small shop retailers, exempt shop retailers, if the business trades within the Sydney Trading Precinct, if you are the holder of a hotel licence, if the business is located within one of the nominated local government areas and if the business has an existing exemption to trade.

Special provisions also apply to liquor stores.

Queensland

Like Victoria, Queensland considers Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday public holidays.

Only exempt shops are permitted to trade on Good Friday and only certain areas are permitted to trade on Easter Sunday.

A full list of exempt shops is available here.

Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory

Neither of Australia’s territories regulate shop trading hours, however Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday are considered public holidays.

South Australia

South Australia’s trading conditions are complex compared to other states. There are different conditions depending on which shopping district the store is located in, and there are also a variety of exempt stores.

South Australia considers Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday public holidays.

Some products are also banned from sale on public holidays such as boats and motor vehicles.

For a full list of the conditions, visit the SafeWork SA website.

Western Australia

In Western Australia Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays. On Good Friday stores must be closed, unless the business is exempt.

On Easter Monday trading hours are restricted to 11am to 5pm.

Similar to South Australia, the trading conditions are complicated and vary depending on different shopping precincts.

More information about the trading conditions is available here.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, Good Friday and Easter Monday are considered public holidays.

Trading hours are generally unrestricted, however it’s worth noting Easter Tuesday is a restricted public holiday in certain awards and agreements, meaning in some sectors penalty rates may apply on the Tuesday following the Easter holiday.

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