The announcement Grand Final Friday and Easter Sunday are now official holidays has been celebrated by the people of Melbourne, but it spells bad news for small food business owners.
The decision to add two public holidays in Victoria by the Andrews Government will hurt business and cost jobs in the hospitality industry, according to peak industry association Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA).
Minister for Small Business Philip Dalidakis announced the additional public holidays despite the government’s own Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) indicating such a move would cost the state $898 million in lost productivity.
R&CA chief executive officer John Hart said he is disappointed economic common sense has not prevailed.
“The decision to progress the gazettal of both public holidays is ludicrous when the benefits do not outweigh the cost,” he said.
“The RIS identified small businesses – particularly those in the hospitality industry – will be the hardest hit as wage costs form a greater proportion of their overall operating costs on these days. Prohibitive labour costs will force food businesses to close, costing the state economy jobs and lost tourism expenditure on these days.
“The decision hardly makes good economic sense at a time of rising unemployment, particularly youth unemployment. The Andrews Government has not listened to the concerns of small food business or heeded the warnings of its own RIS.”
Research commissioned by R&CA indicated 52 per cent of food businesses would employ more staff if penalty rates were reformed and 42 per cent said they would open additional hours. This equates to approximately 14,300 extra jobs in Victoria and 18,650 additional hours of employment on any given Sunday or public holiday.
“The café, restaurant and takeaway sector is the largest employer across all tourism-related sectors of the visitor economy. This sector has a projected employment growth rate of 16.9 per cent or 93,600 jobs to November 2019,” John said.
“Victoria will now have more public holidays than any other state in Australia; but at what cost to jobs and business?”