Christmas has come early for workers in Queensland, with the State Government officially declaring the night before Christmas a public holiday.
Legislation to establish the part-day public holiday on Christmas Eve was passed by Queensland Parliament on Wednesday.
It will officially kick in from 6.00pm on December 24 and will remain in place until midnight.
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Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the night before Christmas is an important one for families.
“It’s a very special time for family and friends as well as communities and churches to come together,” she said.
“Many Queenslanders do have to work Christmas Eve and the change will ensure proper compensation for them.”
Ms Grace said it comes following strong community support during a public consultation period this year.
“Of the almost 1800 submissions we received, 71 per cent were in favour of creating the public holiday,” Ms Grace revealed.
“Christmas Eve should be spent with loved ones, but if you have to work there should be appropriate pay.
“Making it a public holiday gives those who have to work, like essential services personnel, retail staff and shop employees, better pay for having to give up that family time.”
However not everyone is of the same opinion, with critics claiming the move will hurt businesses who can’t afford to fork out penalty rates.
CCIQ General Manager of Advocacy, Amanda Rohan said the overwhelming evidence is that most small business operators will either close their doors or reduce staff and operating hours.
“Sadly this anti-business, anti-worker and anti-economy measure has been introduced at a time where business confidence in the state has all but collapsed,” Ms Rohan said.
“Queensland has the highest unemployment rate and total business insolvencies nationally.
“Small business spoke in the loudest possible terms on the impact of this proposal and have been ignored.”
Queensland is the third Australian jurisdiction to implement a Christmas Eve part day public holiday.
It follows similar moves by South Australia and the Northern Territory.