New option of cultural leave for non-religious public servants

Si Gladman / 16 May 2024

Non-religious public servants could soon be able to take paid leave to commemorate important cultural days that reflect their beliefs, such as Charles Darwin Day, Atheist Day or World Humanist Day.

The newly implemented Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) Enterprise Agreement 2024-27 has introduced a provision for up to three days of paid leave per year for the “purpose of attending significant religious or cultural obligations associated with the employees’ particular faith or culture”.

The Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) understands that agency-based agreements would have to incorporate the provision along with other ‘common conditions’ adopted during Australian Public Service (APS)-wide bargaining.

Some of our supporters who work in the APS have suggested they would be applying to take as leave important international days marked by non-religious, secular, humanist and atheist communities.

RSA Executive Director Si Gladman welcomed the introduction of cultural leave and urged non-religious public servants to take the opportunity to choose leave days that reflect their beliefs.

“It’s a positive step that people of minority faiths and non-religious people who work in the public service will be able to mark the days that are important to them,” he said.

Days that non-religious people could consider taking as leave include: Charles Darwin Day (12 February); Atheist Day (23 March); International Day of Conscience (5 ِApril); World Humanist Day (21 June); World Science Day (10 November); International Human Rights Day (10 December).

Last year, public policy professional Hugh Piper outlined his idea for Australia adopting a portable public holidays system. 

Under his proposal – which he detailed in an article of the Lowy Institution’s Interpreter blog – such a system would allocate each person four portable holidays while retaining common days that are based on shared civic beliefs and that have unifying characteristics — such as Anzac Day, Labor Day and, in future, a possible Republic Day.

However, he told the RSA that the idea would likely need a political champion with an electoral incentive to advocate for the reform.

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Si Gladman is Executive Director at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at sigladman@rationalist.com.au or follow him on Twitter at @si_gladman

Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash.

All the more reason.