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How will the Queen’s memorial public holiday impact your business?

- September 16, 2022 4 MIN READ
Memorial flowers for Queen Elizabeth II

Many small businesses face challenges navigating the unscheduled public holiday, known as the Queen’s memorial public holiday, next Thursday 22 September.

Following the funeral for Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday 22 September, a one-off Queen’s memorial public holiday will be held as a national day of mourning.

The sudden announcement by the Federal Government raised concerns among business owners about the timing of the memorial public holiday, says Employsure. The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) have called for states and territories to clarify trading conditions for the 22 September public holiday.

“It is short notice and it is complex for business …” Fleur Brown, Chief Industry Officer for the ARA told Sky News Australia. “There will be a cost through loss of trade and the additional staff costs on that day.”

For Victoria, the day comes on top of the AFL grand final Friday holiday, leading to a four-day long weekend. In WA, it falls just four days short of their traditional Queen’s Birthday holiday on 26 September (which seems like the worst kind of timing).

What does this all mean for business? And what can you do to cope with this unexpected situation?

Why is the Queen’s memorial public holiday different?

Basically, businesses need time to prepare for a public holiday. Since business wasn’t expecting the Queen’s memorial public holiday, they won’t have made alternate plans or solutions for this challenge.

With less than ten days’ notice given, they must make a quick decision and pivot. Do they keep working? Or should they close trading for the day?

If businesses stay open on 22 September, then they will have to pay public holiday rates to keep people working.

There will also be unplanned staffing costs and scheduling challenges. Smaller businesses such as hairdressing salons will be particularly affected as they work on an appointment basis. If they decide to stay open, they could run at a loss due to the increased staffing costs. They will also lose business if they decide to close trading for the day.

British Royal guard on Buckingham Palace before Queen Elizabeth

What does it mean for your business?

Public holidays are part of the National Employment Standards (NES). The NES apply to all employees covered by the national system.

There are suggestions that an unscheduled public holiday could cost the economy as much as $1.5b. However, economists believe any impact will be short-lived.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced that essential services will remain open and public holiday penalty rates will apply as usual.

“On the day, if you’re a small business owner in hospitality, there will be an enormous amount of activity on that day, I should imagine,” he told 2GB’s Ben Fordham. “Just as there is on days like Boxing Day or indeed on Australia Day, which are both public holidays as well.

“What we see is Australians out and about, and Australians will be out and about that day; they’ll be talking about the contribution, the life of service that Queen Elizabeth has given to Australia, to the Commonwealth and indeed, to the world.”

The challenge of an unscheduled public holiday

But, while some businesses can capitalise on the unscheduled public holiday and maximise their earnings, others will have no option but to shut shop.

For example, the events industry which has contracts and ticket prices locked-in may not have the option to reschedule to increase earnings. Businesses relying on supply chains for daily stock are also concerned, as parts of the supply chain may not be operating.

The unscheduled public holiday also means health care services, already struggling with staff shortages, are facing delays and changes.

Hospitals, surgeries and general practices will need to reschedule patients booked for appointments and operations. Some of these patients may have waited months or weeks for these appointments.

The President of Australian Medical Association (AMA) Steve Robson isn’t supporting the short notice given for the Queen’s Memorial Public Holiday. “Operations and lots of patient consultations booked for that day … thanks for dropping this at short notice,” he said via Twitter.

Albanese isn’t buying it. “The idea that operations don’t occur during a public holiday is of course, not correct,” he told Sky News. “Medical procedures, of course, are always a priority.”

Extra strain for Vic and WA

The timing of the Queen’s memorial public holiday could be particularly expensive if your business is in Victoria and Western Australia. Victoria has Footy Friday on 23 September, meaning they will have both Thursday and Friday off. Western Australia (WA) has the Queen’s birthday public holiday on the 26 September, which is unfortunate timing.

Despite the challenges, Albanese has held firm that the public holiday is justified and necessary.

“This is the first time that we’ve had a change of head of state … Australia needs to and wants to give thanks to the contribution of Queen Elizabeth II as our head of state for 70 years,” Albanese said.

“A one-off public holiday and a national day of mourning is an appropriate response that was agreed to by myself and the premiers and chief ministers.”


This article originally appeared on Kochie’s Business Builders, read the original here.

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