Absent day after public holiday — forfeits holiday pay?

Author Paul Munro 1 May 2012
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The relevant modern award must be considered when assessing whether an employer can refuse payment for a public holiday if an employee is absent after the holiday without legitimate excuse.

This question was recently sent to WorkplaceInfo.

Q  We have an employee who has taken a number of unexplained single-day absences over the past six months.

The same employee was absent from work the day after the Easter Monday public holiday, without providing satisfactory evidence of the reason for this absence.

Apart from being given a final written warning regarding his unexplained absences, the immediate manager wants to deduct payment from the employee’s wages for the Good Friday and Easter Monday public holidays, citing such forfeiture has been permissible under awards in the past.

The relevant award (Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2012) does not appear to contain such a provision allowing forfeiture of public holiday pay.

Is the forfeiture of payment for a public holiday permissible where the employee is absent without reasonable excuse?

A  Unless otherwise provided by the applicable modern award or enterprise agreement, the employer would not be permitted to deduct payment for the public holidays in this circumstance.

The forfeiture of payment for a public holiday, where an employee was absent the working day before and/or the working day after a public holiday without a reasonable excuse, was a provision common to many pre-reform federal awards under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (including the Metal, Engineering and Associated Industries Award which was a pre-reform federal award superseded by the Manufacturing modern Award).

The Manufacturing modern Award, however, does not contain a provision that allows forfeiture of public holiday pay, and the employee would only forfeit payment for the day he or she was absent where no satisfactory evidence was provided to the employer to qualify for paid personal/carer’s leave.

Source: Paul Munro, IR Consultant.
Paul Munro
Paul has over 30 years’ experience providing advice to employers on workplace issues, with over 25 years as a workplace relations advisor with New South Wales Business Chamber. Paul has also been in a workplace advisory role with employer organisations in the timber industry and club industry. more from Paul
1 Comment
ArturoN  1 May 2012,15:10   
Have there been any cases to your knowledge on the sick leave evidence requirement under the NES ie. such that would satsify a reasonable person I ask because I would have thought an employer could require a medical certificate for absences immediately before or after a public holiday
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