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Easter Weekend 2024: Your guide to paying employees

Published November 23, 2023 (last updated on May 15, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

A woman carrying a small basket full of Easter eggs

Each year the Easter weekend represents an opportunity for businesses to attract more consumers and access increased sales depending on their industry. The Easter holiday period remains one of the busiest periods of the year for business owners and employers. A long weekend means a time of relaxation and leisure for families which correlates to influx of consumers. This is good news for business owners and employers who have been battling a cost-of-living crisis, inflation, increased wages, and expenses.

If you run a café, or operate in the tourism industry, a public holiday may be your busiest time of year, and you will need all hands-on deck. What do you pay them? Do they get time off? Can you even ask them to work on public holidays?

Easter Holidays 2024

If your business is opening over the Easter and ANZAC holidays, you should be aware of the rules around employer obligations, and the ability of shops to trade.

Easter Dates:

Good Friday29 March is a public holiday.

Easter Saturday 30 March is not a public holiday.

Easter Sunday 31 March is not a public holiday.

Easter Monday 1 April is a public holiday.

ANZAC Day 2024

As above, ANZAC Day this year falls on a Thursday. If an employee would normally work on a Thursday, then they are entitled to public holiday rates for that day.

*If ANZAC Day falls on a Sunday. If an employee would not normally work on a Sunday, then they’re entitled to a public holiday on the following Monday. This is due to Mondayisation.

Asking Employees to Work on Public Holidays

An employee can be made to work if the public holiday is observed on a day the employee would normally work and their employment agreement says they have to work on the public holiday.

If the employee is made to work, there is a public holiday rate of pay which is time and a half and the employee will also get another paid day off later, otherwise known as a day in lieu. If an employee works a public holiday which is not a usual day they would work, the employee is entitled to time and a half.

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Employees don’t have to agree to work on Good Friday, Easter Monday or ANZAC Day, unless:

  • these are days that the employee would have normally worked

  • their employment contract says they have to work on the public holidays

Easter Trading Rules

Easter trading laws govern that shops cannot open on Good Friday, Easter Sunday or ANZAC Day (25 April) until 1 pm. However, there are some exceptions to Easter trading hours:

  • Certain shops including dairies, service stations, takeaway bars, restaurants, cafes and souvenir stores can open with conditions limiting the goods they can sell, according to the type of store they are. Garden centres can only open on Easter Sunday. Pharmacies can open with no restrictions.

  • Some shops have an area exemption, for example, tourist resorts.

  • Some shops are covered by a city and district council Easter Sunday trading policy.

  • These rules only apply to businesses that are shops as covered by the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990. Other businesses can open during the Easter and ANZAC holidays.

Easter Public Holiday Pay

For public holidays, there are a number of things to work out:

  • on which day the public holiday will be observed for each employee if it’s a public holiday that might be Mondayised (or Tuesdayised)

  • whether or not the day is an otherwise working day for the employee

  • whether or not the employee will be working on the day

  • how much the employee will be paid for the day

  • whether the employee is entitled to an alternative holiday

Public holiday rate of pay is time and a half.

If the employee is made to work, there is a public holiday rate of pay which is time and a half for each hour worked. In certain circumstances, the employee will also get another paid day off later, otherwise known as a day in lieu or an alternative holiday.

Misconception: ‘I already pay above the minimum wage, so I’m already covered for public holiday rates’

It’s great that you pay above the minimum wage, but it doesn’t automatically exempt you from paying public holiday rates. You still have to pay the public holiday rate for an employee who is working a public holiday, but you may be able to pay the employee a higher rate of pay to off-set a certain amount of public holidays, depending on the provisions in the applicable collective agreement and their employment contract.

Easter Weekend: What to Pay?

There is an added dimension to working on public holidays which can be best illustrated in the case of Easter and when employees work over this period. The public holidays for Easter are Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Easter Sunday is different again as it is not a public holiday itself, so if your employee works, they are only entitled to their usual rate of pay. If the employee does not work on Easter Sunday, they are not entitled to a paid day.

Keep in mind that there are separate rules for shop employees. Employers of shop employees who want their employees to work on Easter Sunday must give them notice and the employee is allowed to refuse to work.

Your Guide to Public Holidays

Prepare your business for upcoming public holidays. 

Download Now

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if an employee works on a public holiday?

If an employee works on a public holiday and it is an otherwise working day for them (and they are not only employed to work on public holidays) they also get an alternative holiday. 

What happens if an employee works on Easter Sunday?
If an employee works on Easter Sunday, they would generally be paid their ordinary rate of pay for a Sunday unless they agreed to a different rate with their employer.
How are unworked public holidays paid?

For unworked public holidays, alternative holidays, sick and bereavement leave employees are paid at the rate of relevant daily pay except in two specific circumstances where an employer may choose to use average daily pay. 

Is Easter Sunday a public holiday?

Only Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays. Easter Sunday is not a public holiday, and shops can choose to open if their local council lets them. 

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