“It doesn’t help the business at all”: Small businesses slugged with state-based public holidays this fortnight

“It doesn’t help the business at all”: Small businesses slugged with state-based public holidays this fortnight


Small businesses with a national presence will have to navigate a raft of public holidays this week, costing them millions of dollars in penalty rates and lost revenue.

Yesterday was a public holiday in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory and this Friday is a newly-created public holiday in Victoria to celebrate the eve of the AFL Grand Final.

Canberra businesses will also have to close their doors or pay penalty rates next week due to Labour Day.

October 5 is also a public holiday in South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales.

This week’s newly-created Victorian public holiday will cost the state’s economy between $717 million and $898 million, according to an independent impact study by PwC.

Pana Barbounis, founder of Pana Chocolate, told SmartCompany this morninghe is more than happy to give his Victorian staff a day off work this Friday.

However, the entrepreneur is concerned the extra public holiday will slow down his company’s growth.

Pana Chocolate turned over more than $5 million last financial year and this year is well on track to turn over more than $10 million.

The business, which operates its own retail stores in Melbourne and Sydney, provides jobs to around 40 people.

“My staff work hard and deserve the day off,” Barbounis says.

“But from a production point of view it doesn’t help the business at all. We’re growing and our volume productions need to be up, which means we’re behind one production day a month. From that point of view, it does make it challenging.”

Barbounis says there are also a number of non-financial issues national small businesses like his have to juggle when it comes to state-based holidays.

For example, work on a particular can be delayed while waiting for a response from an interstate office.

“When we post something on Instagram or Facebook we have to manage it and say, come into the Victorian store but, look, New South Wales is closed,” Barbounis says.

“I’d love to see a bit of a public holiday with a bit more meaning behind it. Who needs a day off to whip horses or watch the Grand Final? Don’t get me wrong, I love football, but how about a day to plant trees or something?”

Meanwhile, Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James has reminded Victorian businesses to ensure they pay employees public holiday rates on the eve of the AFL Grand Final to avoid getting stung by the employer watchdog.

“Employers who don’t take the time to check the minimum rates that apply on public holidays are at much greater risk of underpaying their employees,” James said.

“Any underpayments have to be rectified, which means employers can end up facing bills for back-payment of wages they weren’t budgeting for.”


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