Easter pay rates a point of debate

MEMBER for Bendigo Lisa Chesters says she is concerned that Bendigo's hospitality workers may be working next Easter without penalty rates.

Ms Chesters said the federal government had proposed increasingly flexible working arrangements and that this could include cutting penalty rates.

"By next Easter, who knows if penalty rates - which are extremely important for many workers in the Bendigo electorate - will still be a minimum basic condition," Ms Chesters said.

"Like many I believe that Australian workers deserve penalty rates for working extended or unsocial hours like the Easter holidays and many local businesses agree.

"The Easter break is an important religious and family holiday ... If you miss out on these opportunities and are required to work over the Easter holidays, then you should be paid penalty rates."

Ms Chesters' comments come after Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said a Labor state government would make Easter Sunday a public holiday as well.

Currently Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday are public holidays in Victoria.

But retail staff who work on Easter Sunday are only entitled to a normal Sunday rate of pay. 

Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Mark Stone said making Easter Sunday a public holiday would be "disastrous" for small businesses.

"The added labour costs for employers could result in many retail and hospitality businesses closing on Easter Sunday, creating ghost towns in some tourist areas," he said.

"It would certainly be disastrous for small businesses, many of whom are struggling in the over-regulated, inflexible workplace relations environment."

City of Greater Bendigo mayor Barry Lyons also spoke about penalty rates recently. 

Cr Lyons said late night trading was not viable in Bendigo because of penalty rates.

He said this was a shame.

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