SERVICE: City Elements says it will consider not opening Easter Sunday after it was made a public holiday, giving Olivia Mangin the day off.
SERVICE: City Elements says it will consider not opening Easter Sunday after it was made a public holiday, giving Olivia Mangin the day off. Mike Knott BUN021216PENALTY1

Small businesses to take $58m hit on Easter Sunday

EASTER Sunday will become a public holiday from next year with some Bundaberg businesses already declaring they won't open, which could have ramifications for our tourism industry.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland predicted the State Government decision would cost the small business sector $58 million.

City Elements owner Michelle Owen said the biggest challenge her business faced was penalty rates and she probably would not open her Bourbong St restaurant on Easter Sunday.

"We find it difficult to operate on public holidays,” Mrs Owen said.

"I'm not against penalty rates but they are too high for public holidays,” she said.

"We have found that although we are very busy, by the time we take into account the costs of labour, it's hardly worth opening.”

Mrs Owen said the other downside was businesses were often criticised for using junior staff on public holidays.

"I find it very frustrating because staff don't get work because of the penalty rates, business don't get turnover and customers miss out too,” she said.

The restaurateur said if Bundaberg developed a culture of paying a surcharge on public holidays it could go some way to alleviating the pressure on small businesses.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the bill followed a compre- hensive review of the state's IR laws, the first major review in nearly 20 years, with input from employer and business groups, unions, legal experts, academics and other stakeholders.

But CCIQ state manager Kate Whittle said workers would miss out as businesses struggled with the extra costs.

Ms Whittle estimated about 25,000 employees across the state would not receive work on Easter Sunday next year and a further 32,000 employees would have significantly reduced hours of work offered to them, which would amount to $12 million in lost earnings.

Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce president Yale Morgan said retail, accommodation and hospitality businesses would feel the most economic pain.

"Businesses will have two options, absorb the additional charges or reduce their staff levels and opening times to compensate,” Mr Morgan said.

"This may also have an impact on our tourism industry with visitors not having as many options to enjoy what our local businesses have to offer,” he said.

Opposition industrial relations spokesman Jarrod Bleijie slammed the decision, saying it would cost businesses millions.



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