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Payroll pressures before Christmas: HR Central issues advice

Australia’s Bookkeepers Network (ABN) partner HR Central, has issued a reminder to bookkeepers and business owners to be more conscious of Christmas penalty rates or risk compliance and budget pressures in the new year.

Chief Executive Officer, Damien Gooden, said there are common mistakes at this time of the year that can make it difficult for businesses to thrive.

“It’s important to be aware of the costs and your responsibilities to employees this time of year to make sure your business makes the most of the Christmas period,” said Damien.

“You need to know how much notice your staff need to work less or more hours than normal, how much you can rightly expect of them, and how much and when you’ll need to pay them.

“Getting this right will mean a happy Christmas for all.”

To support this advice HR Central, reminds bookkeepers and business owners of some of the critical things to remember, in addition to encouraging us to seek more information from FairWork.

HR Central explains public holidays and what to pay

Across Australia, 25, 26 and 27 December are public holidays. Some States also have part public holidays on Christmas Eve. There are also holidays on 1 and 2 January, except for Tasmania, which just has a holiday on 2 January.

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements can provide entitlements for working public holidays, including:

  • extra pay (for example public holiday rates)
  • an extra day off or extra annual leave
  • minimum shift lengths on public holidays
  • agreeing to substitute a public holiday for another day.

If they don’t have to work, employees (except casual employees) who normally work on the day a public holiday falls will be paid their base pay rate for the ordinary hours they would have worked if they had not been away because of the public holiday. An employee’s roster can’t be changed to deliberately avoid this payment.

The base pay rate doesn’t include:

  • any incentive-based payments
  • bonuses
  • loadings
  • monetary allowances
  • overtime or
  • penalty rates.

When to pay

It is often a question of company culture of when to pay your staff. Does any of your usual pay days fall on a public holiday?

It is worth considering if a pay day is going to fall on a public holiday, then you arrange to have staff paid in advance. It’s much better for direct debits that people have set up, and staff morale.

Is it worth it to stay open? It’s now too late to say no.

Holiday pay rates affect the profitability of your business and so they are important to consider when deciding to stay open or close during Christmas.

The time has passed though if you were planning to insist on leave now.

Most Awards demand that staff are notified of the close at least four weeks before the date. For some, like Building and Construction, it is two months before.

Check your relevant Award to see whether staff are entitled to paid leave, unpaid leave, or a combination of both.

For last minute holiday advice

For a happy festive season, HR Central is on hand if you have any questions regarding your employee management.

14 Dec 2022
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