It’s a day for gift-giving, backyard cricket and Santa in boardshorts, but for workers in South Australia one thing will be missing this Christmas: public holiday penalty rates.
South Australia is the only state or territory in Australia to not declare 25 December a public holiday this year, as it falls on a Saturday and the public holiday will fall on the following Monday 27 December.
Workers rostered to work on Christmas Day will receive Saturday rates, but will miss out on the 250 per cent public holiday pay.
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The decision came after negotiations between the South Australian government and opposition broke down.
The Labor opposition failed to support an amendment that would have seen workers granted public holiday rates on Christmas if the traditional Christmas Eve half-day public holiday was removed for this year.
Treasurer Rob Lucas blamed the Labor Party for refusing to support the “reasonable” compromise.
“The government, through South Australian taxpayers, will be already paying higher penalty rates on Christmas Day for many essential public-sector workers, including nurses, doctors, police and correctional services officers,” Lucas said.
“The last thing small businesses need, particularly those in tourism and hospitality, after more than 18 months of COVID, is to be hit with having to pay 250 per cent penalty rates for four-and-a-half days in a row over Christmas.”
He said many businesses would choose to not open at all, costing workers shifts.
SA Unions secretary Dale Beasley blasted the decision on Thursday.
“What we've seen from the South Australian government with the shameful decision to deny Christmas penalty rates to workers on Christmas Day, is that despite significant infighting, the Liberals can still unite around cutting workers’ pay,” Beasley said.
Even the Grinch could find his heart at Christmas. This Government is doubling down every chance they get to show South Australians how uncaring and self interested they are. https://t.co/ZtBgxsrf7y
— Dale Beasley (@DaleBeas) December 1, 2021
“This Government has shown us their DNA today. They're hardwired to cut workers’ pay at every chance they get. Even on Christmas,” SA Unions added.