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Public holidays in Australia
Australia’s holidays vary by state and territory. All are clearly standardized by local bills and national legislations. There are seven primary public holidays that every region recognizes: New Year’s Day, Australia Day (observed on January 26), Good Friday, Easter Monday, ANZAC Day (April 25), Christmas Day and Boxing Day (called Proclamation Day in South Australia). The rest is fully regulated on the state level; different regions observe a different number of holidays, including one-time occasions that are proclaimed by the Minister of Labour in the Government Gazette by the end of the preceding year. The laws concerning annual leave for the country’s employees have been stated in the Fair Work Act 2009. The main objective is that workers ought to have a day off on a public holiday, or, if they choose, an additional pay for their work during, which is called the “penalty rate”.
Various legislative documents govern the holiday laws in Australian states and territories. In Australian Capital Territory, it is the Holidays Act 1958 that declares a minimum of 12 paid days off. Another region that has established 12 public holidays is the state of Victoria, with its regulations incorporated into the Public Holidays Act 1993; here, however, every Saturday is also lawfully free from work. For the Northern Territory, the Public Holidays Act 1996 proclaims that the employees are entitled to 11 such days. In Queensland and South Australia, workers have 9 holidays, ensured by the Holiday Act 1983 and the Holidays Act 1910 respectively. The latter document, including 17 amendments, states that every Sunday is a public holiday and the state work laws apply to it. In New South Wales, the Public Holidays Act 2010 declares 11 annual holidays, though the proclaimed Easter Saturday and Sunday are simply a normal, work-free weekend for most citizens anyway. The two remaining states, Tasmania and Western Australia, have 10 public holidays. For the former, there are three bills that establish the law: the Industrial Relations Act 1984, the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and the Statutory Holidays Act 2000; apart from the 10 main occasions, there are many more proclaimed locally, such as Devonport Cup or AGFEST. In WA, it is the state government that regulates the holiday law.
Every region has its own addition to the federal public holidays. Queen’s Birthday (its most popular observance on the second Monday in June) is the most popular one, recognized in all states. Another favorite is Labour Day, which in the Northern Territory is called May Day, and in Tasmania – Eight Hours Day. Australian Capital Territory increases its number of holidays with Canberra Day (second Monday in March) and Family and Community Day (first Monday of third term school vacation), while Victoria adds Melbourne Cup Day (first Tuesday of November). The Northern Territory celebrates Picnic Day (first Monday in August) and a number of local festivities. Queensland adds the Royal Queensland Show, locally celebrated in Brisbane, and South Australia has a part-day off on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. While New South Wales does not increase the number of 9 holidays, the state of Tasmania celebrates Recreation Day (first Monday in November) plus two other local dates. The final state annually observes its own Western Australia Day, which falls on the first Monday in June.
A majority of these regions in Australia recognize the practice of moving a holiday that falls on a weekend to the closest work day. The country’s workers are entitled to a full day’s pay on a public holiday, and if they choose to work, they receive a two-and-a-half time higher salary for the day. On some national holidays, alcohol cannot be sold or even the country’s commerce is prohibited altogether. Knowing that every employee is granted a four-week vacation within every twelve months of his or her work, one might deduce that labor laws and conditions in Australia are worker-friendly.