Penalty rates hit business

Christine McGinn | Bendigo Weekly | 20-Feb-2015

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UNHAPPY: Jim HOgan says the peanlty rates will add pressure on business. Photo: Andrew Perryman.
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TRADERS say they will be hit hard by Easter Sunday public holiday penalty rates as they battle with an already difficult environment.

The state government fulfilled its election commitment this week, making the religious holiday and AFL grand final day public holidays.

Shamrock Hotel owner Jim Hogan said the government was placing increasing pressure on traders.

“The Australian Hotels Association is against the decision. On a normal Sunday anyway, staff are paid 175 per cent of their normal salary. If you make it a public holiday, it is now 250 per cent of your salary for full-time or part-time staff member or 275 per cent for a casual,” he said.

“If you work a normal Sunday, you should be compensated anyway. In my hotels, if people have religious observances they can have the day off.

“In this day and age where there is employment flexibility, businesses are open seven days a week. People aren’t forced to work weekends or public holidays. The current penalty rates regime is really archaic.”

Mr Hogan said the he wanted to see the state government’s policy for small businesses because “very little had been done in 20 years” to help them.

“This hits at the core especially for tourist centres like Bendigo,” he said.

“There will be tourists wanting to spend money in Bendigo but most traders will be closed. It is not helping the employees, business owners or the city.

“I’m sure traders will do their sums and if it is not economical to open they will have the day off. It’s not good for the city.”

Small Business Minister Adem Somyurek said a Regulatory Impact Statement for the holidays would be completed before the grand final holiday this year.

“Easter Sunday is no ordinary day. For some bizarre reason Easter Sunday was not a public holiday, the former government decided to make it an ordinary day rather than a public holiday. We are fixing what we should have been a public holiday from the start.

“We think it is fair for anyone who is asked to work on a Sunday to be appropriately compensated.

“If you have a look at our nurses and emergency services workers, while we are enjoying Easter Sunday they are out at the coal face keeping our community safe. It needs to be fair to them.”

The former government removed Easter Sunday trading restrictions in 2011 but did no make it a public holiday.

But VECCI chief executive Mark Stone said thousands of small businesses would “foot the bill” for the two new public holidays.

“The new holidays will result in both lost productivity and higher wage costs for small business at a time when many are facing difficult trading conditions,” he said.

The Bendigo Traders Association was contacted for comment but did not respond before print.

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