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Australia Day this year falls on a Sunday. For South Australians, this means that both Sunday, 26 January 2020 and Monday, 27 January 2020 are public holidays.

We have received some queries from South Australian clients about which days are classified as a ‘public holiday’ for Australia Day. Some have specifically questioned why the Fair Work Ombudsman website for public holidays notes that both the 26th and 27th of January are listed as public holidays for 2020.

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), public holidays include days and part-days prescribed by State or Territory legislation.1 In South Australia, this includes all public holidays set out in the Holidays Act 1910 (SA), which provides that if, 1 January, 26 January, or 25 December falls on a Sunday, both that day and the following Monday are public holidays.2 Monday is therefore an additional public holiday, and not a ‘substitute public holiday’.

What this means for Employers

Employers should:

1. ensure that they are complying with their relevant modern award or enterprise agreement when paying employees for work performed on the public holidays of 26 and 27 January; and

2. consider whether it is reasonable (in the circumstances and at the time) to request an employee to work on the Australia Day public holidays.

While the Ombudsman’s website states that for all other States and Territories the Australia Day public Holiday will be on the Monday in substitution for the Sunday, we encourage employers to review their relevant State/Territory legislation to confirm whether this is the case.

Require further information/assistance?

If you require further information or advice, please contact one of our consultants.


1 Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) s 115.
2 Holidays Act 1910 (SA) s 3(1)(b), sch 2 pt 2.

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