Working on Australia Day: What are the rules?

Many companies are letting staff work on Australia Day and take another day off instead.

Working on Australia Day concept. Australian workers. Australian flag.
A growing number of companies are letting their staff work on Australia Day and take off another day instead. (Source: Getty)

Many Aussies are choosing to work this Australia Day, as more and more companies acknowledge January 26 is not a day of celebration for all Australians.

Woolworths, Telstra and Channel 10 are some of the Aussie companies letting employees choose to work on January 26 and take another day off instead.

The Federal Government is also allowing public servants to work on January 26. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was up to employers and workers whether they worked on Australia Day or not.

So, what are the actual rules that apply?

Can I substitute the Australia Day public holiday for another day?

It’s up to your employer. If you are on an award or agreement, Fair Work says it may include provisions allowing you to substitute a public holiday for another day if both you and your employer agree.

You can search for your award or agreement on the Fair Work website. The relevant information should be listed under the ‘public holidays’ section. If you don’t have an award or agreement, you can still do it, as long as your employer agrees.

Fair Work also noted that your employer couldn’t “exert undue influence or pressure” on you in relation to substituting a public holiday.

How much will I get paid?

It depends on the type of worker you are. According to Fair Work, employees get paid at least their base pay rate for all hours worked on public holidays.

But you may get extra pay, such as public holiday rates, depending on your award or agreement.

What companies are letting staff work?

There are a growing number of Aussie companies letting their staff swap the Australia Day holiday for another day.

Woolworths told staff they could work on Australia Day and be paid penalty rates, or accrue time in lieu to be used on another day, in line with their terms of employment.

Other companies include Telstra, Paramount (which includes Channel 10), accounting firms like Deloitte and PwC, the University of Wollongong and Yahoo.

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