Planning for the Easter/School Holiday Period – As it relates to Employees

It is important to consider the impact of the Easter/School Holiday period on your employees and associated policies and procedures.

Some key items have been addressed below.

What are the gazetted public holidays for Easter this year, that I need to pay at the relevant penalty rate?

The following dates are official public holidays:

  • Friday 29 March – Good Friday
  • Saturday 30 March – Saturday before Easter Sunday
  • Sunday 31 March – Easter Sunday
  • Monday 1 April – Easter Monday

It is essential for employers to carefully check the specific awards that their employees are employed on to understand the correct pay rates and penalties that applies across the Easter period.

Is it fair and reasonable for my employee to decline to work on a public holiday?  

The Fair Work Act 2009 states that an employer can request that an employee work a public holiday, but the request must be reasonable, however, an employee has a right NOT to work on a public holiday.

In determining whether an employer’s request or an employee’s refusal to work on a public holiday is reasonable, the following must be taken into account: the nature of the employer’s workplace (including its operational requirements) and the nature of the work performed by the employee.

Things to consider when asking an employee to work, may include the employee’s personal circumstances, including any caring responsibilities they may have, the amount of notice provided to the employee, the role and type of work the employee does as it relates to the industry award.

Conducting a Risk Assessment:

When you are going into a period which brings out of the ordinary risks to the workplace, it is important to consider what risks are likely to occur. Coming up to Easter and the School holiday period, it would be beneficial to conduct a thorough risk assessment.

Involve employees who have experience in working during holiday periods, as well as employees who will be working over the upcoming busy time.

Explore the various risks that can occur, get clarity on how severe the risks are and consider some practical solutions to manage the risks. Remember, the controls can involve:

  • Blocking off areas
  • Emailing out revised instructions
  • Training your team to manage risks
  • Adding additional signage

The risks and controls to manage these risks will vary from business to business. Ensure that you have established practical measures relevant to your business.

Understanding the work environment during the Easter/School Holiday period:

It is important that you update your policies and procedures to ensure that your business is safe for your employees and of course the customers and public. This would include:

  • Refresher training for staff on dealing with busy periods
  • Ensure First Aid and Safety Training is up to date
  • Communication to customers appropriate behaviour and the consequences of unsafe behaviour (if appropriate)
  • Ensure employees are vigilant in identifying potential hazards before they escalate

If employees are working alone:

It is important to prepare appropriately if you have employees working alone over Easter.

Some of the areas to consider are:

  • Reviewing your Working Alone Policies and Procedures, as well as your general processes and procedures which may be impacted by Public Holidays.
  • Consider whether an employee is experienced and skilled enough in their role for them to be working alone during this time.
  • Provide appropriate training to employees working alone – taking them through the relevant policies and procedures.
  • Ensure that there are clear processes in place in case employees requires support during this time.
  • Remember that during holiday breaks some standard processes may not work – consider specific escalation processes, contact details for people who can provide support and availability of standard suppliers.

General Information for Employees – to ensure a safe return to work post Easter:

  • Roads are busy – be extra vigilant and take breaks when driving
  • Be respectful on the roads
  • Be aware of driving under the influence of illegal substances (including alcohol)
  • Make sure you are ‘fit for work’ when you start back at work – this includes managing your fatigue and having no illegal substances in your system

If you would like some additional assistance, please contact The Proven Group directly –