File picture: Crowds pack into Westfield Chermside to get their Christmas Shopping done.
File picture: Crowds pack into Westfield Chermside to get their Christmas Shopping done.

True cost of Christmas Eve ‘public holiday’ revealed

MORE than a third of businesses closed on Christmas Eve rather than pay new public holiday penalty rates, a new survey has revealed.

The Suncorp Pulse Survey, conducted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland, found a further one-in-five small business owners cut staff or worked themselves to avoid an unaffordable wage bill.

The part-time public holiday introduced late last year by the Palaszczuk Government ensured workers received penalty rates after 6pm on Christmas Eve. While it mirrors laws in South Australia and the NT, the move was condemned by business groups who insisted it would hurt Queensland's struggling retail sector.

CCIQ advocacy and policy manager Amanda Rohan told The Courier-Mail that the survey results confirmed the worst fears of business.

File picture: Crowds pack into Westfield Chermside to get their Christmas Shopping done.
File picture: Crowds pack into Westfield Chermside to get their Christmas Shopping done.

"Last year, four businesses per day entered into insolvency and at times Queensland's unemployment rate was the highest in the country," she said. "Business confidence leading into Christmas was the lowest since the GFC. Small business needs to be given the confidence to employ and hire staff, invest in their business and support their communities. We cannot afford policies that penalise businesses for employing people and supporting their communities."

The survey showed 35 per cent of businesses decided to close on Christmas Eve because of the holiday conditions. Owners either worked themselves or cut shifts at a further 18 per cent of businesses surveyed.

Only one in 10 businesses that did open introduced a surcharge for customers to help cover the extra wage costs.

Ms Rohan said workers would have missed out on a shift because of the Palaszczuk Government's changes.

"This decision was implemented without due consideration of the ramifications."

However, Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said all the feedback she had received about the change was positive.


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