Decision on Easter Sunday is anti-business and job-destroying

Wednesday 31 August, 2016 | By: Darrell Giles | Tags: Easter Sunday, public holidays, penalty rates

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) says the State Government is damaging small business and the job market with plans to create an extra public holiday.

CCIQ Director of Advocacy Nick Behrens said in a move that will be branded by Queensland’s hospitality and retail sectors as anti-business, the government will this week introduce legislation to create an additional public holiday on Easter Sunday.

“CCIQ strongly protests the Palaszczuk Government’s plan, as it is anti-business and is certainly anti-jobs,” he said.

“A new public holiday for Easter Sunday (16 April, 2017) will impose significant costs on small business and the Queensland economy.

“The additional cost in wages to Queensland businesses alone will be at least $53 million, not to mention forgone productivity.

“Hospitality businesses will see their hourly wage rate on this day increase by 43 per cent and for retailers by 25 per cent.”

Mr Behrens said the measure would lead to four consecutive public holidays (Good Friday through to Easter Monday) and many businesses might close for the entire period.

“The added labour costs for employers will potentially result in many retail and hospitality businesses closing on Easter Sunday, creating ghost towns in some tourist areas, less shifts for employees and Queensland being a less dynamic place to visit, shop, dine or enjoy,” he said.

“It would be particularly disastrous for small businesses, many of whom are struggling in the over-regulated, inflexible workplace relations environment that already includes significant weekend penalties for employees.”

CCIQ evidence previously cited by the Australian Productivity Commission demonstrates that retailers and hospitality businesses are reducing both operating hours and employment hours as a result of penalty rates.

“Our results conclusively demonstrate that employers will reduce overall employment hours to the direct detriment of existing and potential employees, including young Queenslanders, as a result of the imposition of the additional public holiday penalty loadings,” Mr Behrens said.

“This worrying trend demonstrates that the State Government is struggling to understand how to make it easier for business to employ.

“Concerns regarding this Bill emanate from businesses across the state that operate on Easter Sunday including the retail, tourism, accommodation, hospitality and agricultural industries.

“The government has sought to deliberately blur this issue by committing to review shops trading hours for the day. However, at present the majority of businesses can already open on Easter Sunday unimpeded.

“It is only businesses at the big end of town that have restrictions placed on them.”

Mr Behrens said the additional public holiday came as a Ministerial Directive from Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Grace Grace, due to pressure from the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees' Association (SDA), the nation’s largest trade union.

“It is unacceptable to the business community in the context of a string of anti-business decisions from State Government since assuming office,” he said.

“Only NSW, VIC and the ACT currently have Easter Sunday as a public holiday, so the State Government cannot make an argument for national consistency.

“The decision comes with zero consultation with the business community nor a Regulatory Impact Statement.

“It is unsurprising that most businesses feel the government is increasingly making it tougher for them to do business in Queensland. We believe the State Government should make it easier to provide a job and not the reverse.”

Mr Behrens said thousands of small businesses would foot the bill for this extra public holiday.

“The significant costs highlight the consequences of making populist decisions at the expense of good public policy,” he said.

“It is a bad decision – the State Government must do the right thing by Queensland businesses; do the right thing by people who are trying to employ more people and trying to create more jobs; and not take money away from them.

“What Queensland needs is more jobs and this plan is only going to set that back.”

Mr Behrens said CCIQ would seek the support of crossbench MPs to oppose the public holiday amendments to the relevant Bills scheduled to be introduced to Parliament on Thursday.

 Easter holiday wages

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