30 November 2023

Legislation to make Christmas Day a public holiday every year has passed Parliament.

The Public Holidays Act 2023  was finalised in Parliament on 30 November 2023. It replaces the Holidays Act 1910 and comes into effect on 1 January 2024.

Previously, when Christmas Day fell on a Saturday, the public holiday moved to the following Monday instead. This meant some workers did not receive public holiday rates when rostered to work away from their families and loved ones on Christmas Day.

Under the new legislation, Christmas Day will be treated as a public holiday regardless of whether it falls on a Saturday or Sunday. This is consistent with every other State and Territory in Australia.

Easter Sunday will also be declared a public holiday. Previously, South Australia and Tasmania were the only Australian states where Easter Sunday is not a public holiday.

The legislation also modernises our public holiday laws by implementing a consistent approach for when other public holidays fall on a weekend. This will bring greater clarity to how these public holidays interact with industrial relations laws and better align with the rest of Australia.

The practical effect of the changes in the 2024 calendar year is confined to Easter Sunday. Christmas Day fell on a Saturday in 2021 and will not fall on a weekend again until 2027.

Overall, the changes will see the number of full-day public holidays in SA increase from 11 to 12 each year. This is in line with QLD and less than the 13 public holidays per year in VIC, ACT and the NT.

The changes will result in an average of 1.1 additional public holidays per year over the next 10 years.

Public consultation on the changes was held earlier this year.

The legislation does not regulate shop trading hours or the penalty rates workers are entitled to receive for working on public holidays. These are dealt with under separate pieces of legislation which do not form part of these reforms.

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