What’s going on with all these public holidays?

Ai Group has expressed strong objections to new public holidays recently announced by various State and Territory Governments.

The Queensland Government recently announced that Easter Sunday would be proclaimed as a public holiday.

The Northern Territory recently announced new half-day public holidays on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

And now, the Victorian Government has announced that it has reconsidered its earlier decision not to proclaim a public holiday on 25 December given that a Christmas Day public holiday has been proclaimed on Tuesday 27 December. Public holidays are now going to be proclaimed on 25 December and 27 December.

In media comments, Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox stated: “From the Footy Friday holiday in Victoria, to the new Easter Sunday public holiday in Queensland, to the part-day Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve public holidays in South Australia, and Family and Community Day in the ACT – the situation is getting worse not better. State and Territory Governments are tripping over each other in the rush to see who can be the most profligate with businesses’ money.”

Evidence from research conducted by Ai Group suggests the economy is the biggest loser when additional public holidays are proclaimed. An Ai Group survey identified an estimated cost of at least $1 billion in lost sales for Victorian businesses, with a $500-million-dollar wage bill on top, as a result of the AFL Grand Final Public Holiday.

In its draft report on Australia’s Workplace Relations Framework, the Productivity Commission recommended amendments to the Fair Work Act to ensure that employers are not required to pay for leave or additional penalty rates on any newly designated State and Territory public holidays. Ai Group is urging the Federal Government to introduce legislative amendments to implement this recommendation without delay.

Ai Group is arguing that, through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), a nationally consistent approach to public holidays needs to be developed in respect of: the quantum of public holidays; the days on which public holidays which are recognised in each State and Territory are held; and the substitution of certain public holidays which fall on weekends.

Are any of these new public holidays likely to impact your business? Share your experiences and ideas and start a conversation by leaving a comment below.

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Ai Group's Head of National Workplace Relations Policy, Stephen Smith is responsible for workplace relations policy development and advocacy. He regularly represents industry’s views to governments and opposition parties, and in numerous inquiries and major cases. He is Special Counsel for, and Chairman of the Board of, Ai Group Workplace Lawyers, a national law firm operated by Ai Group.

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