Australia Mulling Public Holidays Should Only Be 11 Days Cap Per Year

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | April 29, 2013 2:19 PM EST

Australia's federal government is mulling to implement an 11-day public holiday cap per year.

This, as Jarrod Bleijie, Queensland Attorney-General, denied the proposal was pushed and being lobbied by the Newman Government.

"Federal Minister Bill Shorten wrote to me to ask my thoughts on the proposal," Mr Bleijie said in a statement.

"I told him that any move by the Federal Government to progress this issue would have to be done with greater consultation because we have more than 11 public holidays in some years."

The recommendation to have a standard 11-day public holidays across the nation, Mr Bleijie clarified was contained in a Federal Labor Party commissioned report.

"It is not a Newman Government proposal."

The Federal Government proposal to decrease the number of public holidays would enable businesses to save $300 million. Specifically, the recommendation aimed to rewrite the current practice of adding an extra public holiday to Christmas, Boxing or New Year's days when these fell on a weekend. However, these would mean normal wage rates for hospitality and retail workers during those days.

But if successful, hospitality and retail workers would miss out on penalty rates when rostered for Christmas, Boxing or New Year's days when these days fall on a weekend.

"Standardising the number of public holidays on which penalty rates are payable to a consistent 11 per year will deal with this issue," Mr Bleijie wrote in a letter dated December 20.

"In Queensland, the Holiday Act 1983 provides for 10 state-wide public holidays and one 'show' public holiday in each region, totalling 11 public holidays for which penalty rates apply."

"Departure from these 11 public holidays normally only occurs whenever Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year's Day fall on a weekend and an additional public holiday is created.

"As such, the additional public holidays could be reviewed in relation to achieving a consistent 11 public holidays per year."

In 2012, Queensland had a total of 13 public holidays after New Year's Day fell on a Sunday. An additional day off was granted for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

As expected, business and labor clash on their differing opinions on the matter.

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