ACT declares Christmas Day a public holiday, employers forced to pay twice in more Christmas public holiday chaos

South Australia and Victoria are now the only two states yet to declare Christmas Day a public holiday, with employees in those states set to miss out on penalty rates, after the Australian Capital Territory declared yesterday that Saturday, December 25 will now be counted as a public holiday.

But the decision has drawn scorn from the ACT Chamber of Commerce, which says that companies will now be forced to “double dip” and pay holiday rates for both December 25 and the substitute holiday on Monday, December 27.

Yesterday ACT minister for industrial relations Katy Gallagher said in a statement Christmas will now be declared a public holiday so penalty rates can be paid.

“This year we see Christmas Day falling on a Saturday, so Monday, December 27 was made a public holiday in lieu of the 25th, The change announced today has been made to ensure people who work on weekends are not disadvantaged and the 27th will remain a public holiday,” Gallagher said.

“We recognise that Christmas Day is a national holiday that is important to many families, and if someone is not able to spend the day with their loved ones because of work, they should be fairly compensated.”

The announcement comes after the Australian Industry Group has lodged a proposal to Fair Work Australia in order to have the Christmas/New Year public holidays harmonised.

The problem has occurred because this year, Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s all fall on weekends. This means each state has taken their own decision on whether these days are public holidays.

Some have said the following Monday and Tuesday will either be used as substitute or additional holidays, but some have not, leading to confusion among businesses and workers as to when holiday pay rates need to be made.

In the ACT’s case, public holiday rates will now need to be paid on both Saturday, December 25 and the following Monday, December 27. The ACT CCI has said it is disappointed in the move to “double dip”, and that workers should only be given one public holiday.

“We were disappointed with that decision. The additional cost to employers, and the lateness of the decision is unfortunate, because most employers will have already established their rosters. We estimate it’s about a $400,000 cost to taxpayers for public servants in a small city like Canberra, and that overall it will cost millions,” a spokesperson said.

“We recognise that many people would like to spend Christmas with their families, and we’d like to see Christmas Day as a public holiday. But we don’t see the double dipping as a good alternative.”

With Fair Work yet to release its decision on the AIG’s proposal, the chaotic schedule of Christmas/New Year public holidays is still in play. Here’s our handy guide to keep you informed:

New South Wales and Queensland

Christmas Day on Saturday, December 25 is classified as a public holiday. A substitute holiday for Boxing Day will be held on Monday December 27, while an additional holiday for Christmas Day will be held on Tuesday, December 28.

Saturday, January 1 is also declared a public holiday, while an additional holiday will also be held on Monday, January 3.

Australian Capital Territory

Christmas Day is now classified as a public holiday, but Boxing Day is not. A substitute day for Christmas will be held on Monday, December 27, while another will be held for Boxing Day on Tuesday, December 28.

New Year’s Day will not be classified as a public holiday either, with a substitute holiday to be held on Monday, January 3.

Victoria

Christmas Day on Saturday, December 25, is not a public a holiday. A substitute public holiday will be held on Monday, December 27.

Boxing Day on Sunday December 26 is declared a public holiday, and an additional public holiday will be held on Tuesday, December 28.

New Year’s Day will be declared a public holiday on Saturday, January 1, and an additional holiday will also be held on Monday, January 3.

South Australia

Christmas Day on Saturday, December 25 is not a public holiday, and a substitute public holiday will be held on Monday, December 27.

An additional holiday for Proclamation Day will be held on Tuesday, December 28.

New Year’s Day will not be declared a public holiday on Saturday, January 1, with a substitute public holiday to be held on Monday, January 3.

Western Australia

Christmas Day on Saturday, December 25, and Boxing Day on Sunday, December 26, are both public holidays. But additional public holidays will be provided for both on Monday, December 27 and Tuesday December 28 respectively.

An additional holiday for New Year’s Day will be held on Monday, January 3.

Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory

Christmas Day and Boxing Day are not classified as public holidays, with substitute holidays to be held on Monday, December 27 and Tuesday, December 28.

New Year’s Day will not be classified as a public holiday either, with a substitute holiday to be held on Monday, January 3.

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