Public Holiday Nightmares

As a small business owner, every decision we make is put under so much scrutiny and thought process before we actually implement it. We are always thinking of every possible consequences and especially when it affects our staff. However we look at it, someone will be unhappy. Unfortunately, all decisions come with a positive and a negative impact. Yes a public holiday looks good on the book by most people. It is an extra day off we can spend doing what we love and with who we want to spend it with. And as much as a public holiday is supposed to be for all, in reality this is so not the case. “It’s lost productivity and disruption to actual economic activity,” Mr Koukoulas said

In our industry, most people expect us to be open 7 days a week without considering how much work is done before we even open our doors to customers. Each year, many restaurants, cafes, hotels, and other food & beverage providers ponder on this exact question in the lead up to Easter, Christmas and the gamut of Public Holidays we have in Australia.  It is a reasonable question to ask; however we are all entitled to a break from work, employees and employers alike.We need to identify and understand the ongoing costs associated with running our hospitality operation, even when the doors are shut. But small business owners and casual workers facing lost income don’t share the festive sentiment, while economist Stephen Koukoulas estimated the public holiday would cost the national economy $1.5 billion. If you are also thinking about weighing up benefits versus costs, consider this. While businesses still have to pay full-time staff on public holiday, casual workers will receive no pay at all, a blow for those already suffering cost of living pressures. There are 2.4 million casual workers in Australia, which account for 23 per cent of employees and 19 per cent of all people employed, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The cost of staff for most hospitality business will be doubled on any public holiday, as we employ a lot of casuals. If you have full-time and part-time employees, annual leave entitlements must be paid during this period also as they accrue another day in lieu plus leave loading. In most cases, this is enough to think “why would I even consider opening”. If you are not in a “touristy” area, you will even lose passing trade, therefore the loss of sales will impeach your profits. It is valuable for hospitality businesses to also consider how customers will view a temporary closure, and to prepare to minimise against loss of future business. The added fee for opening on public holiday doesn’t cover the added costs and also creates friction with customers. The last 2 years have already been hard enough on all. Consider this also, when like in Victoria, there is 2 public holiday in a row, we cannot get supplies or deliveries from Thursday until following Monday. Not many hospitality business can stock 4 days of fresh products to be able to cater for customers needs.

ENT Head and Neck Surgeon Dr Eric Levi, who works at St Vincent’s Hospital and The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, said hospitals rely on a huge and varied workforce and their absence will cause havoc. So if people just say, ‘Oh, why don’t you just stay open’, they misunderstand the fact that it takes many workers to operate. Although this is not the case in Victoria, some other states will also have the added stress of parents forced to take a day off work or find childcare, potentially at a cost and a loss of workers available. Many hospital departments may be forced to close due to a lack of staff. Specialist medical appointments that were booked months in advance now having to be postponed for several more months.

In conclusion, this is not a easy decision to make which ever way you look at it for many businesses, we did not choose to have another public holiday and although we completely agree with higher wages for those who have to work, not every business can take the added costs. Many people will say “you shouldn’t be in business if you cannot cover the costs”, they also have never had to work when everyone else is out enjoying themselves because of a public holiday. If you do not have the stress of loss of income, you will never understand this paradox. We are not trying to deny the day for the Queen’s mourning but merely show that those decisions are not easy and every consideration has been thought of before we decide to stay open or close our doors.

Enjoy the long for those of you that can afford it.

Back to blog