ACT latest to declare Christmas Day a public holiday

The ACT has become the latest jurisdiction to declare Christmas Day a public holiday, which falls on a Saturday this year, leaving Victoria and South Australia the only states not to do so.

 

 

The issue of Christmas Day falling on a non-weekday has raised the issue of whether penalty rates received by staff should be paid on the day as well as Monday, December 27, when a public holiday will be given in lieu.

 

ACT Industrial Relations Minister Katy Gallagher said yesterday the change was made to ensure people who work on weekends are not disadvantaged, with December 27 to remain a public holiday.

 

“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,” Gallagher said.

 

According to Gallagher, the inconsistency across the states, regarding public holidays, should be dealt with through industrial relations systems and processes.

 

The Australian Industry Group recently applied to Fair Work Australia in an effort to “head off this potentially costly confusion and uncertainty”.

 

According to AIG chief executive Heather Ridout, the way public holidays are proclaimed is vitally important because it impacts upon the penalty rates payable for days worked.

 

In its application to the FWA, the AIG has argued that where public holiday penalty rates are payable on the additional holidays, such as December 27, they should not also have to be paid on December 25.

 

It has mounted similar arguments relating to Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Australia Day.

 

Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, says Victoria and SA are the only “sensible” states for refusing to declare Christmas Day a public holiday.

 

“A lot of businesses [in other states] won’t open on Saturday because of the penalty rates. But for businesses in Victoria and South Australia, it won’t cost them any extra,” Strong says.

 

Strong says business owners in the other states need to decide whether it is worth opening at all on Christmas Day given the penalty rates they must pay to staff.

 

“For small businesses, it’s an enormous increase in costs. If you were planning to operate on Christmas Day, all of a sudden it might not be viable to do that,” he says.

 

Strong says small businesses that typically do well on Christmas Day are those revolved around food, such as restaurants and convenience stores.

 

“You might still make some good money. A lot of small businesses might choose to run the business by themselves and won’t call in any staff, but that’s not a great way to spend Christmas Day,” he says.

 

Strong says small business owners rarely allow themselves a break and should therefore look at spending the day with their family.

The current public holiday situation for the festive period for each state is as follows:

 

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 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.

 

However, 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 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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