Queenslanders who find themselves away from family and at work on Christmas Eve may head home with a bit more money in their stockings this year.
The State Government wants to see Christmas Eve recognised as a part-day public holiday after 6:00pm to ensure people at work that night receive penalty rates.
“It would ensure workers have the right to have Christmas Eve off as a public holiday just as they do for Christmas Day,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement.
“Many Queenslanders though do have to work Christmas Eve and the change would ensure proper compensation for them.”
Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said affected workers would be better off in two ways.
“They’ll be able to get a penalty rate — which has reduced — but they’ll get a penalty rate for the public holiday under their federal awards and agreements,” Ms Grace said.
“They’ll also be able to — on a reasonable basis — say that they’re not available to work and they’ll be able to obtain that protection.”
Ms Grace said the change was no reflection on employers, who would be minimally affected by the new law.
“I know that it’s been pretty quiet even in my part of the electorate on Christmas Eve and employers are able to then include a surcharge if they do want to trade — some of those employers in the hospitality sector in particular,” Ms Grace said.
Ms Grace said the proposed change in Queensland came about following positive feedback in South Australia.
“We’re saying that we’d like to join South Australia who recently had a review and found that it was working extremely well down there and in the Northern Territory,” she said.
The change is subject to public consultation, but the Queensland Government hopes to see it implemented by Christmas this year.
Ms Grace said she had already received positive feedback from the community.
The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), which has more than 32,000 members employed across the retail, warehousing and fast food industry in Queensland, approved of the move.
SDA state secretary Chris Gazenbeek said the Government would be putting in place something the vast majority of Queenslanders supported.
“Our members in retail, warehousing and fast food and many employees work extremely hard at very unsociable times to provide a seven-day-a-week service to the public,” he said.
“No reasonable person would begrudge retail, warehousing and fast food workers the right to a part-day public holiday on Christmas Eve or to public holiday penalty rates if they work.
“This will not only benefit members of the SDA, it will be great news for many hard-working Queenslanders including our well-respected essential services workers, such as firefighters, paramedics, nurses and police officers.”
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