Government to review and amend the Holidays Act 1910 (SA)

Happy Holidays?

As everyone is aware, modern society is more transient than the conventional 9am to 5pm working hours. The South Australian Government has acknowledged this change and that businesses which typically operate outside these “standard” 9 til 5 hours should not continue to be penalised for their hours of operation, when it is standard, accepted and expected practice that trade continues.

The current Government has indicated its intention to assist by aligning SA trading practices on public holidays with that of the other states and territories to create national consistency. Part of the suggested changes include amending the Holidays Act 1910 (SA).

The Holidays Act 1910 (SA) [Act] is the act which proclaims which days are “deemed” public holidays in this state. Uniquely, Sundays in SA are deemed to be public holidays.

The outcome of declaring Sundays public holidays in SA is that businesses may be required to pay penalty rates every Sunday. Most awards for the industry currently reflect this requirement by requiring employers to pay a “Sunday rate” which is in excess of the standard rate.

In order to assist in the alignment of shop trading hours, the Government is proposing to introduce a bill into Parliament in 2012 to:

1. Remove Sundays as public holidays;

2. Extend public holiday shop trading hours in the Adelaide CBD; and

3. Potentially create part-day public holidays on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

The part-day holidays would mean that for businesses open after 5pm (and until 12 midnight) on the relevant days, employers would be required to pay penalty rates, again in accordance with the relevant award.

While the proposal is aimed at providing extra trading hours to retail business in the Adelaide CBD to promote tourism, the consequences of creating these part-day public holidays will apply state wide and in particular to the hospitality industry.

Hospitality businesses whose operating hours are set by their liquor licence, will, feel the effects in more than just the associated wage increases.

As currently employees have the “reasonable right to refuse” to work on public holidays, these proposed part day public holidays may make it more difficult to find willing workers for clubs, hotels and restaurants.

While the Government aims to bring SA trade inline with other states and territories, these proposed amendments could create more confusion as no other state or territory provides for part-day public holidays.

While the Government has indicated its intentions, the final form of the legislation is currently unknown.

For more information, please contact:
Sandy Donaldson

Sandy Donaldson
p.  +61 8 8124 1954
e.  Email me

This communication provides general information which is current as at the time of production. The information contained in this communication does not constitute advice and should not be relied upon as such. Professional advice should be sought prior to any action being taken in reliance on any of the information. Should you wish to discuss any matter raised in this article, or what it means for you, your business or your clients' businesses, please feel free to contact us.

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