MEDIA RELEASE: ACT weekend workers set for an even merrier Christmas as public holidays modernised

Aug 5 2014

Weekend workers in the ACT will finally have the freedom to spend Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day with family and friends, regardless of which day of the week the holidays fall on, after the ACT Government today passed legislation modernising the public holidays.

The legislation means that public holidays are now officially declared for years when Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years Day fall on either a Saturday or Sunday – something which until now had not occurred.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association NSW Assistant Secretary Bernie Smith said that until today, workers haven’t received public holiday loading or had the same right to reasonably refuse to work if the actual festive holidays fell on weekends.

“This will make a world of difference to weekend workers in the ACT,” Mr Smith said.

“This new legislation recognises that in our modern 24/7 economy a lot of people work on weekends, but that in our modern community these days are still very special.

“Weekend workers give up so much family time throughout the year to serve the community on weekends – they deserve to have the opportunity to take time out with their families to celebrate special holidays like Christmas Day and Boxing day, regardless of which day of the week they fall on.

“The impact of these days not being public holidays has been significant for many workers who are required to work over the festive period. We’ve seen workers unable to exercise their right to reasonably refuse to work on important days such as Boxing Day or New Years Day on a weekend because they were not official public holidays.

“This change is important to ensure that if weekend workers miss out on spending time with their loved ones due to work commitments on these special days they are fairly compensated with public holiday penalty rates on the day.

“The ACT ALP Government and Minister Gentleman should be congratulated for introducing this bill to modernise public holidays in the ACT. It’s encouraging to see our politicians fight for what they know is fair.

“We also appreciate the Minister’s comment about declaring Easter Sunday a public holiday in the very near future too, and recognizing Anzac Day no matter what of the week it falls on.

Mr Smith said cries from some in the business community that the move will hurt businesses are absurd.

“Businesses always talk about how we live in a ‘modern 24/7 economy’, and this new legislation recognises that. Any claim this will cause businesses to shut up shop is absolutely ridiculous,” Mr Smith said.

“We’re hopeful that ACT businesses will welcome these changes, just as all weekend workers and their families do. This is about fixing an obvious flaw in the system for the benefit of everyone in the ACT community.”

Stand up for retail workers and any further erosion of their precious family time.
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