State Government still no closer to declaring Easter Sunday a public holiday

Posted: March 31, 2013 by Rizwan Riyad in News, world
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TELL US: Should Easter Sunday be a public holiday?

THE State Government is still no closer to declaring Easter Sunday a public holiday – more than a year after asking for feedback on the idea.

The state’s most powerful union wants the day proclaimed a public holiday so workers can receive penalty rates and have the right to refuse shifts to be with family or attend religious services.

But the business sector argues there are enough public holidays in the long weekend already. Easter Sunday is not officially a public holiday in South Australia.

Almost 13 months ago the government released a discussion paper to gauge support for removing the public holiday status of all Sundays and prescribing Easter Sunday as a public holiday in its own right – but it is yet to make a decision.

Under the Holidays Act 1910 every Sunday is technically a public holiday, but by convention this does not afford workers penalty rates each week. These are instead set out in industrial awards or contracts.

Church leaders and unions were among those to argue for the change, while Business SA and retailers such as Myer and Coles were opposed to it.

The majority of submissions to the public consultation argued Easter Sunday should not be prescribed a public holiday.

A spokesman for Industrial Relations Minister John Rau this week said there was “no intention to remove Sundays as a public holiday in the immediate future”.

However, he said Mr Rau might reconsider after he receives a review into public holiday shop trading hours next week.

At the beginning of the year, former IR Minister Russell Wortley said if any changes were made to the Holidays Act that Easter Sunday “would be given consideration because of its religious and cultural significance”.

NSW is the only state that gives the day special holiday status.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employee’s Association secretary Peter Malinauskas said the union had long wanted Easter Sunday proclaimed an official public holiday to compensate workers.

Mr Malinauskas said many South Australians would be under the mistaken belief that the day was already a public holiday.

Business SA director of policy Rick Cairney said the organisation supported doing away with the technicality that every Sunday is a public holiday but did not want Easter Sunday proclaimed a holiday in its own right. “It really never has been a public holiday,” Mr Cairney said.

“The fact of the matter is the Monday is a public holiday in lieu of the Sunday.”

Opposition industrial relations spokesman Iain Evans said it was “unbelievable that it takes over a year” for the government to announce a decision following its consultation.

source : news.com.au

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