Extra public holidays hit SMEs in the professional services industry particularly hard during the past week, according to one small business owner who had to close down his Melbourne office on the eve of the AFL grand final.
David Markus, founder of IT services company Combo, told SmartCompany last Friday’s public holiday in Melbourne forced him to close his office because it was simply not affordable.
Victorian Labor MPs flooded social media on Friday to spruik the state’s new public holiday, tweeting about big crowds at cafes and restaurants.
— Philip Dalidakis MP (@philipdalidakis) October 2, 2015
— Jaala Pulford (@JaalaPulford) October 2, 2015
However, Markus says unlike a local cafe, he has clients all over Australia as well as overseas.
“We have clients from New Zealand to Perth and into Asia these days,” Markus says.
“Our clients are mostly head offices in Melbourne and Sydney but they have clients everywhere these days and we need to support them. When we close for an extra public holiday because the cost skyrockets, it has an impact on our clients who don’t have a public holiday.”
Last Friday’s public holiday in Victoria was projected to cost the state’s economy between $717 million and $898 million, according to an impact study by PwC.
Today is a public holiday in New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia.
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Markus says everyone enjoys time off, but public holidays hurt small businesses the hardest.
“Every holiday that forces us to close our doors potentially sends our clients to a big business that can afford to put a skeleton crew on,” he says.
“It penalises small services businesses.”
Markus also points out that small businesses already have a hard time trying to get staff to go an annual leave.
Throwing in an extra public holiday simply builds up leave liability for SMEs, according to Markus – particularly when a lot of Victorians are AFL fans and would have taken the day off regardless.
“As a small business owner where cash flow is an issue, where debt is an issue, building leave liability is something that bothers me,” he says.
“If a staff member leaves all of a sudden that leave needs to be paid out in cash. We all enjoy time off, but there are other ways to do it.
“Encourage your staff to take a day of annual leave – it’s good for them. We want people to use their annual leave because it creates a healthy workplace.”