Working Boxing Day?

On Boxing Day, Thursday 26 December 2019, you are entitled to exercise your legal right to take the time off on the public holiday unless you freely elect to work without any pressure, coercion, harassment, threat or intimidation.

Retail employers are preparing rosters for the Christmas period during late November and early December at the very latest. If you intend to exercise your right not to work on Boxing Day we recommend that you notify your employer as soon as possible with sufficient time before rosters are completed.

Click here download the Boxing Day letter which notifies your employer you do not volunteer to work on Boxing Day. Complete the form, print two copies and keep one copy for yourself. Hand the other copy to your employer the next time you are rostered to work.

The law is on your side

In NSW it is unlawful for a shop to open for trade on Boxing Day unless the shop is staffed only by persons who have freely elected to work on that day.[1]

The law also says you have not “freely elected to work”:

  • if you work on the day because you have been coerced, harassed, threatened or intimidated by or on behalf of the occupier of the shop, or
  • merely because you are rostered, or required by the terms of an industrial instrument, to work on that day.[2]

Public Holiday rates of pay

If you do genuinely choose to work on Boxing Day make sure you know all your rights, especially your right to be paid public holiday rates of pay in accordance with your Award, Enterprise Agreement or contract of employment, as applicable.

What's at stake

Unfortunately, NSW state laws allow stores to open their doors on 26 December, which means that many workers are being robbed of the opportunity to spend Boxing Day with their family and friends.

You have the right to refuse to work though. The legislation states that working on the day must be voluntary. No one can be rostered on without their permission.

If you need help exercising your rights please speak to your store Delegate or contact the SDA on 1300 SDA HELP (1300 732 4357) for confidential advice and assistance.


[1] ss 4 and 8A of the Retail Trading Act 2008 (NSW)

[2] s 3A of the Retail Trading Act 2008 (NSW)

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