Businessmen say they’ve been Scrooged by Santa’s gift to workers

The Victorian government has backpedalled on a decision not to declare Christmas Day a public holiday.

Victorians working Christmas Day, which this year falls on a Sunday, will now receive public holiday penalty rates for the Sunday as well as for the Tuesday “lieu day” previously announced.

The Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, Philip Dalidakis, said the move recognised that Christmas is a day to spend more time with friends and family.

“I’ve had time to consider how the existing arrangements unfairly affect those Victorians required to work on Christmas Day when it falls on a weekend – that’s why I’m making this change,” he said in a statement.

However, a prominent business group says it’s a “slap in the face” for business owners.

“Businesses will now enter 2017 looking at the Victorian public holiday calendar as a rough guide, knowing that it may be subject to change with just a few weeks’ notice,” Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Mark Stone said.

He said the extra public holiday on a Sunday “has gone too far” and would punish businesses that had already paid penalty rates for two extra public holidays this year.

Victoria will have the most public holidays of any state or territory this year, totaling 15 – four more than Tasmania and Western Australia, which have the least.

Two new public holidays, AFL Grand Final Eve and Easter Sunday, were introduced by the state government last year and are estimated to cost the Victorian economy up to $898 million annually, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers– Matthew Male

Photo by Matthew Male