This guide is the same as the guide published by Queensland Health. Thanks to some improvements to working arrangements through EB11, the QNMU and QH are now in agreement on work arrangements for public holidays. The main improvements are:
Annual leave is now exclusive of all public holidays – ie: you can now never have annual leave deducted on a public holiday.
Employees will have the ability to opt out of the additional week of annual leave and working on public holidays if they work in a unit that closes on public holidays. This is a new provision in EB11 and will be rolled out by June 2023. The QNMU is currently working with QH to identify which units will be able to provide the ability for employees to opt out and the method by which they will be able to apply.
The requirement to give a minimum of 24 hours’ notice for stand down on a public holiday has been written into EB11 (it was previously only contained in the guide). This makes it more enforceable.
For any questions about public holiday working arrangements, please contact QNMU Member Connect on 3099 3210 or email [email protected]
To provide support to health services in the development of business rules/guidelines around the work arrangements for nursing and midwifery staff on public holidays.
Nurses and Midwives (Queensland Health) Award – State 2015 (the Award)
Nurses and Midwives (Queensland Health and Department of Education) Certified Agreement (EB11) 2022 (Nurses and Midwives EB11)
3.1 General Principles
Many nurses and midwives are rostered to work on public holidays and are paid a public holiday shift loading in accordance with Nurses and Midwives EB11.
A new provision at clause 36.5 of EB11 provides that annual leave is now exclusive of all public holidays. This means that an employee cannot have annual leave deducted on a public holiday.
Where nursing and/or midwifery staff needs can be predicted prior to the public holiday, employees should be notified if they will be required to work at the earliest possible opportunity.
Individual services/facilities are to consider staffing needs based on clinical and service delivery requirements prior to deploying or standing down (not required) nursing and midwifery staff on public holidays.
Note: Stand down (not required) means being released from a rostered shift on a public holiday with pay.
Where nursing and/or midwifery staff are stood down (not required) by their supervisor on a public holiday they are entitled to the day off the same as any other employee who is not required to work i.e. without debit to annual leave or time off in lieu (TOIL).
Roster patterns should not be varied to avoid meeting public holiday entitlements, particularly in relation to part-time nursing and midwifery staff. For example, changing a part time employee’s roster to avoid paying and/or providing the public holiday entitlement.
3.2 Practical application of the general principles
Given the broad scope of services provided by Queensland Health, it is not possible to apply a single arrangement to all nurses and midwives in relation to working on public holidays.
Staff who do not want to participate in work arrangements on public holidays
Staff who would ordinarily be rostered to work on a public holiday, and who do not want to participate in working arrangements on public holidays, can request that they not be rostered to work on that day.
Wherever possible, to ensure appropriate planning can occur, employee requests to not be rostered on a public holiday should be made well in advance of the public holidays. The employer will make best endeavours to ensure employees are treated equitably with regards to employee preferences and the number of public holidays employees are required to work over a year.
In accordance with clause 36.5 of Nurses and Midwives EB11 annual leave is exclusive of all public holidays. This means that an employee cannot have their annual leave debited on a public holiday.
In accordance with clause 15.1(d) of the Award, accrued days off (ADOs) are to be arranged so they do not coincide with a public holiday. An ADO should be taken on another day as agreed by the employee and employer within the same four weekly cycle where possible.
Stand down (not required)
Services/facilities should establish a timeframe for giving the earliest possible advice to employees as to their requirement to work, or not, on each public holiday. Consideration should be given to the amount of notice required for an employee to make arrangements for family and other responsibilities that will occur on the public holiday.
If not required to work, employees should be provided with reasonable notice prior to the commencement of their rostered shift.
If minimum staffing is required each ward, unit, service or facility should establish a short list of nurses and/or midwives who are required to work. If possible, this should be established well in advance of the public holiday, based on the preferences of the nurses and midwives and ensuring that employees are treated equitably in the number of public holidays they will be required to work over a year.
The minimum notice period that must be provided is 24 hours prior to the commencement of the shift
In accordance with clause 36.9 of Nurses and Midwives EB11, where employees are stood down and are not provided at least 24 hours’ notice before the commencement of the shift, they will be paid the penalty rates they would have been entitled to had they worked the rostered shift.
Consideration should be given as to whether an employee is required to be deployed to another suitable area (in accordance with 3.3.3 below).
Where an employee is stood down by their supervisor on a public holiday, they are entitled to the day off, as is any other employee who is not required to work.
Employees who are stood down by their supervisor but are required to be on call must be paid ordinary time for the public holiday plus the on call allowance in accordance with the on call provisions in the Award.
Nursing and midwifery staff are entitled to the same consideration as other Queensland Health employees not required to perform their normal duties on a public holiday. However, where employees are rostered to work on a public holiday they may be required to be deployed to areas where staffing and workload demands indicate nursing and midwifery staff are required to meet patient needs.
When meeting staffing needs on a public holiday, health services should seek to meet the need using the existing workforce for that work unit/service.
Health services may seek to deploy staff whose units/services are closed on the public holiday, where there is insufficient existing workforce in another area or the arrangements in place for covering emergent leave generally are not sufficient to meet demand on a public holiday.
Staff who volunteer for deployment on a public holiday should be utilised before staff who are requested to make themselves available on a public holiday for deployment.
Deployment should only occur to clinical areas where the nurse or midwife
is able to safely practice. Nurses and midwives have a professional responsibility to work within their scope of practice and level of competence and must only undertake work that they are educated, authorised and competent to do.
Any movement of nursing and midwifery staff between wards or units will be done in accordance with current deployment processes which provide for matching the employee’s skills, knowledge and abilities to the position and deployment at the same classification level, unless otherwise agreed.
Prior to being deployed, nursing and midwifery staff should receive appropriate training and consultation, including but not limited to:
reasons for deployment;
area of deployment;
previous history of deployment.
Opt out of additional annual leave and the requirement to be available to work on public holidays, for public hospital employees
Public Hospital nurses and midwives are entitled to 190 hours/5 weeks annual leave per annum. 38 hours/1 week of this leave is in lieu of extra payment for work performed on public holidays.
Nurses and Midwives EB11 introduced a new entitlement, at clause 35.3, which provides employees the ability to “opt out” of 38 hours/1 week of leave where they work in a service that does not operate on a public holiday. Employees who “opt out” would revert to an entitlement to 152 hours/4 weeks annual leave per annum.
The ability to “opt out” is available to public hospital employees who work in a service which does not operate on public holidays. Employees who work in a service that operates with reduced nursing and midwifery staff on public holidays would not ordinarily have the option. That is, if an employee works in a service that is open on a public holiday, working on public holidays is likely to be a requirement of the employee’s position. However, where a service does not have regular lists or appointments; operates with a skeleton staff for emergencies only; or a small number of employees are required to be on call for emergencies, it may be able to be considered.
Hospital and Health Services, in consultation with the union, will determine which services fit the criteria to allow employees to opt out of additional leave. Consultation will be finalised by June 2023, when employees in the agreed units will have access to this new entitlement.
Where an employee opts out of the fifth week of leave but extraordinary circumstances exist and they are requested to perform work on a public holiday, they will be paid in accordance with clause 36.3(v) of Nurses and Midwives EB11 i.e. at double and one half times the ordinary rate of pay.
3.3 Information for line managers
ADOs and public holidays
ADOs cannot be rostered on public holidays. ADOs must be arranged so that they do not occur on a public holiday. An ADO will be taken on another day as agreed by the employee and employer within the same four weekly cycle where possible.
When a nurse/midwife is stood down (not required) on a public holiday due to work unit staffing and workload the public holiday is regarded as a day worked for ADO accrual purposes.
Annual leave and long service leave on public holidays
In accordance with clause 36.5 of Nurses and Midwives EB11, annual leave is exclusive of all public holidays for all nurses and midwives covered by the Agreement. This means that an employee cannot:
have their annual leave debited on a public holiday; or
be required to apply for annual leave to ensure they are not rostered on a public holiday.
In accordance with section 95(5) of the Industrial Relations Act 2016 long service leave is also exclusive of a public holiday that falls during the period of the leave. This means that an employee’s long service leave cannot be debited on a public holiday.
A nurse or midwife who is sick on the day a public holiday falls is to be paid normal salary and no debit made to the employee’s sick leave balance. The employee is required to complete an AVAC for the public holiday they were on sick leave.
If a nurse or midwife is on sick leave without pay where a public holiday falls, there is no entitlement to payment and no debit is to be made to the employee’s leave balance.
RDOs and ‘special’ public holidays
In accordance with clause 36.4(i) and (ii) of Nurses and Midwives EB11, where an employee is on a rostered day off on Labour Day, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday or 25 December, they will be entitled to a full day’s wage at the ordinary rate (100%).
There is no entitlement to an additional day’s wage where an employee is on a RDO on any other public holiday.
There is no entitlement to an additional day’s wage for employees on a RDO where they do not work on Saturday or Sunday, with respect to Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday, or 25 December where it falls on a Saturday or Sunday.
The RDO payment is automatically applied for full time employees on a RDO on Labour Day and 25 December when it falls on a weekday.
For Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday and 25 December (where it falls on a weekend), employees are required to complete an Attendance Variance Allowance Claim (AVAC) for the public holiday off payment to be applied on their RDO.
If a part-time employee is on a RDO on Labour Day, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday or 25 December, and it is a day of the week that the employee would ordinarily be required to work, they are able to claim an additional day’s wage via an AVAC. However, part-time employees are not entitled to the payment where the public holiday falls on a non-work day.
: a part-time employee works 0.8FTE and works Monday to Thursday each week. They are never required to work on a Friday (it is a non-workday). There is no entitlement to the RDO payment if 25 December falls on a Friday. The employee would also not be entitled to claim a RDO payment for Easter Saturday or Easter Sunday as they are never required to work on those days.
: a part-time employee works 0.6FTE and works across a Monday to Thursday roster rotation with their rostered days varying. The employee is rostered to work Tuesday to Thursday and 25 December falls on a Monday. The employee would be entitled to the RDO payment where 25 December fell on a Monday as it is a day on which they are sometimes rostered but are on an RDO on this occasion. If 25 December falls on a Friday, the employee would not be entitled to claim a RDO payment as they are never required to work on that day.
Roster patterns should not be varied to avoid meeting public holiday entitlements, particularly in relation to part-time nursing and midwifery staff. For example, changing a part time employee’s roster to avoid paying and/or providing the public holiday entitlement is not permitted.
: a part-time employee works 0.6FTE and ordinarily works Monday to Wednesday. The week of the Easter Monday public holiday, the employee is rostered to work Tuesday to Thursday. This rostering practice is not permitted as an attempt to avoid paying the public holiday entitlements.
Public Holiday Stand Down (not required)
Public holiday stand down must be approved by an appropriate delegate. Payroll forms (Daily Staffing Variance Form (DSVF)/AVAC) must be completed and forwarded to payroll after the public holiday.
If a nurse or midwife is stood down on a public holiday but remains on call they are to be paid an on call allowance.
Leave without pay
A nurse or midwife who does not attend work on a public holiday without any prior approvals to take leave will be marked as Leave without Pay.
Template planning tool
In services that generally operate Monday to Friday, employees will often not be required to work on a public holiday as the service they work in may be closed. There is also now an ability for employees to opt out of working public holidays under clause 35.3 of EB11. (These arrangements are described at paragraph 3.2.4 of this guide.) There may also be services that operate with reduced staffing on public holidays. However, if there is a requirement that nurses and/or midwives are required to work on public holidays, it is important that the service plans ahead so employees know well in advance of the public holiday if they will be required to work. This template planning tool can be used by the service to allow employees to nominate preferences for work on public holidays. It is suggested that this template be filled out six monthly or annually to allow the maximum time possible for nurses and midwives to plan.
Download the QH Public Holiday Template Planning Tool below for use by nursing and midwifery staff who work in services that are closed or operate with reduced staffing on public holidays.