Penalty rates on Christmas Eve as Queensland government creates half-day public holiday

Christmas office

Christmas Eve will be classified as a part-day public holiday in Queensland starting this year, meaning businesses operating that evening will be required to compensate their workers accordingly.

In a joint statement released yesterday with the Queensland Minister for Industrial Relations Grace Grace, Queensland Premier and Minister for Trade Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a state-wide six-hour public holiday starting from 6pm on Christmas Eve.

“Many Queenslanders … have to work Christmas Eve and the change would ensure proper compensation for them,” Palaszczuk said.

Queensland is set to become the third state to offer this half-day to workers, following South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Marcus Bernardi, co-owner of Adelaide establishment Harry’s Bar, tells SmartCompany the law — which was implemented in 2012 for South Australia — has not changed their decision to continue into the night on Christmas Eve.

“Christmas Eve is not a busy time … We wish we didn’t have those rates because people are more than happy to work but we’ve chosen to open.

“Even though it’s not worthwhile from a financial point of view with all the penalties, we just felt that it’s almost a service to the customer [to open],” he explains.

Retail, restaurant, hospitality and pharmacy award rates go up by 225% to 275% over public holidays depending on whether the employee is casual, part-time or full-time.

The new legislation is driven by overwhelming support from the public, with 71% of public consultation submissions in favour, according to Grace.

“We received submissions from retail workers, bus drivers, mothers and religious leaders, just to name a few, who wrote of the ever-growing importance of Christmas Eve as a special time for family and friends to come together and celebrate the season and the need to properly compensate those who were required to work,” she said in a statement.

“Making it a public holiday will give those who have to work, like essential services staff, retail workers and shop employees, better pay for doing so.”

READ MORE: Everything businesses need to know about hours and penalty rates for the 2019 Australia Day public holiday

READ MORE: Retail penalty rates are increasing: Here’s what the changes mean for your business

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Graham Storrs
10 months ago

If it doesn’t make sense, financially, then don’t open. Or, open, pay a decent wage, and charge customers more for the service. Small businesses opening on weekends and holidays should not be bullied by an entitled public into charging less than a fair price for their service. And they should not, in turn, force people to work unsociable hours for unreasonable wages. The public needs to be educated.