The Queensland Government has recently approved the new public holiday in Queensland from 6pm on Christmas Eve.  As a result of this, anyone who is currently paid under an award rate after 6pm will be paid at penalty rates under the current rules. This means that the employees will be paid up to 250% of their normal pay just to be working since it is a public holiday.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR QUEENSLAND?

Businesses that will be staying open after 6pm, will be required to pay their staff who are on award wages, which will reduce the profit margins for business owners.  It will be likely that business owners will be looking closely at who is going to be working during that time and may make the decision to either only have themselves working before considering using those on award rates.

With the new public holiday, restaurants may also impose a public holiday surcharge, so those who are enjoying a meal out with the family may have to pay a surcharge to cover the additional labour costs.

The Queensland Government will likely be the one most affected by this change, as they will be paying for the penalty rates for hospital staff, emergency service employees and other government workers.  It is estimated that this will cost the Queensland government $21 million.

With the federal government set to reduce the Sunday penalty rate from 1 July 2020 to 150%, this new holiday was likely a way to attempt to keep an election promise of returning Sunday penalty rates to workers. Queensland is now the 3rd state to implement Christmas Eve night as a public holiday behind South Australia and Northern Territory.