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Easter: how your union defends your right to a day off

Protecting public holidays for retail, fast food & warehouse workers

The SDA has a long history of protecting public holidays for retail, fast food and warehouse workers. We believe public holidays should be for everyone – not just some.

Public holidays are a rare opportunity to take a day off to enjoy with friends and family and they should remain that way. That’s why the SDA protects them and ensures that when it comes to work, you have rights on public holidays.

The right to voluntary work on public holidays

The vast majority of SDA members in retail and fast food are covered by SDA-negotiated Agreements.

These agreements have secured voluntary work on public holidays which means you have a right to take time off on all public holidays and you cannot be forced to or pressured into working.

Penalty rates as fair compensation if you choose to work

If you are rostered on and choose to work on a public holiday you should be compensated with penalty rates.

The majority of SDA members receive a penalty rate of between 200% to 250% for working on public holidays.

This is only fair as you’re giving up a day that everyone else in the community gets to take off. If you’re at work to serve others enjoying a day off, whether it’s at the check-out or the drive-thru, then you deserve higher rates of pay.

However, a the Fair Work Commission ruled to cut penalty rates for working in retail, fast food and pharmacy on public holidays. The SDA fought this decision every step of the way but now our only option to reverse these cuts is by changing the government and changing the rules. Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison voted 8 times to let the cuts go ahead. On the flip side, the Federal opposition – the Labor Party have committed to restoring penalty rates if they are elected.

Read more about the SDA’s protect penalty rates campaign at

Securing and defending public holidays

We value the idea of work to live not live to work.

The SDA has worked hard to protect public holidays for retail, fast food and warehousing workers, and this includes changing legislation to reflect important days. For example, Easter Sunday has only recently been made a Public Holiday in some States (the first in 2011). This important advance in several States and Territories only occurred after the SDA had run strong campaigns to achieve this.

Now, thanks to the SDA, Easter Sunday is now a public holiday in NSW, ACT, Victoria and Queensland. In South Australia & Western Australia, the SDA is currently campaigning for Easter Sunday to become a public holiday.

Without a change to legislation to declare official public holidays, then public holiday entitlements, such as penalty rates may not apply which is why the SDA’s campaigns are vital.

Questions about your public holiday entitlements?

If you have any questions about what you’re entitled to on public holidays, contact your local Branch of the SDA who will be able to provide you specific advice.

Want to be one of 200,000 retail, fast food & warehouse workers who protect public holidays?