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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2014) . . Page.. 1257 ..

Thursday, 8 May 2014

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Holidays Amendment Bill 2014

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (10.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Holidays Act 1958 does not currently provide for a public holiday for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day if these days fall on either a Saturday or a Sunday. Instead, if these days fall on a Saturday or a Sunday, the official public holiday is either the following Monday or the following Tuesday if Boxing Day falls on a Sunday.

For workers who are required to work on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day, the consequences of them not being declared public holidays can be significant. Firstly, workers may not be entitled to the full benefit of any public holiday loading that would be available if they were working on a public holiday. Secondly, those workers would not be able to exercise their right to reasonably refuse to work on a public holiday, that right being enshrined in the commonwealth’s national employment standards. Finally, people who are required to work on public holidays are not able to enjoy the time with their family and friends that the rest of us take for granted on these important social occasions.

In 2010, 25 December fell on a Saturday and the act provided a substitute public holiday for Monday, 27 December. In 2010, representatives of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Union met with the then Minister for Industrial Relations to discuss this issue after receiving notice that a major retailer, though not opening on 25 December, planned to roster staff on to work and require them to take annual leave to cover the day’s absence. This was clearly not a situation that a worker should be presented with at any time of the year, let alone on Christmas Day, with the effect of losing a day’s annual leave to work on that day. As a result, and in order to prevent such mean-spirited behaviour occurring again, the ACT government declared 25 December an additional public holiday for 2010.

Both 25 December 2011 and 1 January 2012 fell on a Sunday, and the government again acted to declare those days public holidays. This issue will arise again in 2015,

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