How to pay staff correctly this Christmas

4 min read ·  

For many businesses, the Christmas trading period is one of the busiest and most stressful times of the year. The pressure is on to not only produce a bumper trading period but also pay your staff correctly. Here are Tanda’s quick tips for how to make sure your payroll is accurate this Christmas season.

Be aware of Public Holidays

This year, Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday, and Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. Christmas Eve is a public holiday from 6pm onwards and Christmas Day is a public holiday all day. Most businesses are aware that these days are a public holiday.

However, because they fall on a weekend, there are makeup days the following week that are also public holidays. This means that Monday the 26th (Boxing Day) is a public holiday, but so is Tuesday the 27th and Wednesday the 28th of December. Public holiday rates apply on these days. For a full list of this year’s public holidays, see our article here.

New Years Day (Saturday 1st January 2023) operates in a similar fashion. Saturday the 1st of January is a public holiday, and so is Monday the 3rd of January, which is a make-up mid-week Holiday.

Public Holiday rates

Pay rates on public holidays are set by each Award. If you’re using Tanda’s managed Awards, the correct rate will be selected automatically. However, as a general guide, full-time employees receive a paid day off at their base rate, part-time employees are entitled to public holiday rates paid at a penalty rate for the hours they work, and so are casuals. These rates vary by Award.

Check your rates, classifications and Awards

Many payroll issues are from simple problems, like outdated rates or applying the incorrect Award to staff. Taking a small amount of time to make sure you’re doing the simple things right will go a long way to staying compliant.

Up to date rates

Award rates are updated throughout each year and you need to use the most recent rates. All Awards have now been updated in 2022, so if you haven’t updated them, you should immediately. Importantly, if you’re looking up rates, make sure you get them from Tanda or from the Fair Work Commission itself. Sometimes rates will appear in search that contain outdated documents from previous years.

If you’re using Tanda, our managed Awards automatically update in our award interpreter when they’re changed by Fair Work. Other software systems may require you to manually update your rates, and if you’re using another provider, we recommend checking with them about how the process works.

Award Selection

Likewise, Award selection and classification is another seemingly simple issue that is actually easy to get wrong. A classic example of this is the Hospitality Award and the Restaurant Industry Award. Despite being in very similar industries, these Awards only apply in specific circumstances. 

If you run a standalone restaurant, you’ll be covered under the Restaurant Industry Award. If your restaurant is connected to a hotel, you’ll be covered under the Hospitality Award. Distinctions like these sound simple, but are very important to get right, because your entire staff can be paid incorrectly. The best way to confirm if you’re using the right Award is to use Fair Work’s Award finder.


Finally, making sure workers are on the right classification under the Award is also important. Award classifications can be difficult to interpret and can be confusing. Make sure you read the exact description in the classification.

Don’t forget about breaks

Breaks emerged as a key issue in compliance this year with multi-million dollar union-backed lawsuits. To stay compliant, you need to roster breaks for your staff and show that the breaks were taken, as well as paid (if applicable). Breaks are typically 10 minute paid breaks, or 30-minute unpaid meal breaks, however entitlements vary between Awards. Tanda has written a comprehensive breaks explainer which can be viewed here.

We’ve also developed our own breaks feature to manage this growing compliance issue. Oue one-click break compliance allows you to design a roster with compliant breaks.

Other traps

This year, outer limits rules on the hours salaried staff can work came into effect for some awards, including Hospitality. You can read more about them here.

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