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Easter public holiday surcharges

By dvaey - 15 April 2009 28

[First filed: April 13, 2009 @ 08:09]

I just finished working my duly rostered shifts over the easter weekend, having been asked to work over Easter as other staff were away for the weekend.  I agreed to the shifts, to help out over a busy period, as I work in a fast-food based business and most of the young staff were on school holidays or away with family.

My first issue, is to do with 10% surcharges.  My employer enforced a 10% surcharge for Good Friday, which is understandable due to the nature of the day. 

I turned up to work on Saturday and was informed the 10% surcharge was in force for the entire weekend, as according to the ACT Government, the entire Easter weekend is classified as a public holiday.  Maybe I’m out of touch with the times, but I was always taught that Jesus died on the Friday (hence the significance), and came back at midnight 3 days later, hence the significance of Easter Monday and Sunday in the church calendar.  I always believed ‘Easter Saturday’ was a normal day.  Upon further research, Saturday is now the public holiday and Easter Sunday is just the ‘normal day’.

Can this activity be legal?  Can making under 18s work over easter for no penalty rates be fair?  Can profiting off a religious public holiday be legal?  Apparently under the new(old) workchoices agreements, they can.

Has anyone else here been charged a 10% surcharge this weekend, unaware of the fact that the workers arent receiving it, but the store owners instead?

UPDATED: Well done dvaey, The Canberra Times now reports that the Workplace Ombudsman is now on the case.

What’s Your opinion?

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28 Responses to
Easter public holiday surcharges
r1 3:13 pm 13 Apr 09

The hospitality industry wont change , from the big hotels to the smallest cafes they

will exploit you. The best thing to do is get out , ASAP , and find something else.

There isnt any other option

Woody Mann-Caruso 3:08 pm 13 Apr 09

I went through this crap at Dominos in Erindale last year for one long weekend or another (I don’t eat it, I just follow orders from screaming teenaged girls to buy it). It wasn’t even a public holiday – it was a Saturday, but according to the ‘manager’, the whole long weekend counts. I told them to stick their pizza where the sun doesn’t shine and walked off. The ‘manager’ was priceless:

“But…you have to pay for all of these!”
“No, I’m not hungry anymore.”

And a 100% markup for a coffee? F_ck. Off.

el 2:43 pm 13 Apr 09

Yep, we do Steady Eddie.

Steady Eddie 2:07 pm 13 Apr 09

Do we have another one of these f*cken pubic holidays on the Monday following Anzac Day (Apr 27)? Please tell me we don’t.

Donewrong 12:05 pm 13 Apr 09

I-filed said :

trevar said :

Donewrong; did you buy the coffee or move on?

Sounds as though you struck a junior who didn’t get it.

I can’t rule it out, but she was very definitive about it, and the other two staff were crammed in beside her in close proximity overhearing our exchange and didn’t challnge her on it.

I would love it if another RA reader went in there today and reported back!

Mike Crowther 11:21 am 13 Apr 09

Dvaey, The breakdown of Easter is as follows: We get ‘Good’ Friday off because that’s the day Christ is supposed to have died (about 3:00PM.) Saturday was traditionally not a public holiday because nothing happened that day (he was just dead). The story goes that his tomb was found empty (or he was spoken to by Mary M. depending on which Gospel you chose to believe) just after Dawn on Sunday morning (ergo, another holiday). A day off for Easter Monday was a later (welcome) addition but with no ‘historical’ rationale. Changing the actual Holiday from Sunday to the Saturday is a recent thing. (Although if like me you tend to work public hols, there is a benefit in getting P.H. rates rather than Saturday rates as Sun rates are rich enough as is).

Personally I don’t care about the surcharge so long as a business owner has the guts to admit that they are gouging and don’t try and blame it on their allegedly overpriced socialist staff. Profiteering has never been far from the hearts of local business in this town. (I remember that the price of batteries more than doubled during the bushfires.)

As to what you should be paid, there is an award. Awards are not a suggested scale of fees, they are the law. However, if your a casual insisting on your award entitlements can result in your phone just not ringing. I suggest you keep an accurate diary of when you worked and how much you were paid for it. (Also what role you were actually performing during the shift, retail and hospitality are notorious for mis-classifying the roles their staff actually perform.) When you leave you can present them with the bill for underpayment. You union will assist you with this. (You are in your union aren’t you???)

I-filed 11:20 am 13 Apr 09

trevar said :

Donewrong; did you buy the coffee or move on?

Sounds as though you struck a junior who didn’t get it. The $3.50 probably applies to a sit-down, not a take-away. Anyone going into town today and could check? It wouldn’t be fair to the business to assume management would charge double. It simply wouldn’t make business sense.

Alan Shore 10:36 am 13 Apr 09

According to our Chief Minister, Friday 10th, Saturday 11th and Monday 13th are public holidays:

But you should still get Sunday rates on Easter Sunday, of course.

The thing that troubles me most is that the Chief Minister describes Holy Saturday as ‘Easter Saturday’. The days after Easter are called Easter days, not the days before. So, perhaps we are being told that workers get public holiday rates on Saturday 11 April, which is officially declared as a public holiday, as well as Saturday 18 April, which is Easter Saturday, which is also officially declared a public holiday.

Mighty generous!

canberra bureaucrat 10:32 am 13 Apr 09

I was at the portrait gallery on Saturday, and asked whether the 15% surcharge was accompanied by staff being paid overtime. They produced a copy of the chief’s notice, informing us Saturday was a public holiday (, and insisted they were being paid overtime. Their manner suggested I wasn’t the first to ask!

trevar 9:36 am 13 Apr 09

I think from now on when I’m told about a surcharge I’ll ask whether the staff are getting penalty rates before paying (but I won’t cancel my order until after the makings are wasted!).

toriness 9:34 am 13 Apr 09

i always assumed the public holiday surcharges were to do with penalty rates for staff. if those penalty rates do not exist, then i would be interested in hearing from any business owners on RA what the justification for gouging your customers is.

Donewrong 9:33 am 13 Apr 09

I moved on and wandered around hopelessly for 10 minutes trying to find somewhere else, ended up at Tosolinis (always friendly and quick service there) and paid $4.90 including a 10% surcharge. Coffee was a 7.2/10.

trevar 9:30 am 13 Apr 09

Donewrong; did you buy the coffee or move on?

Donewrong 9:26 am 13 Apr 09

I have no idea about the legalities of this, but I do find it very disturbing. If only Stanhope were somehow responsible, this thread would already have 30 posts.

I just wanted to share a bizarre weekend encounter at My Cafe in Civic (the one that used to be a tobacconist….damn their closure!). I popped in to get a takeaway coffee on the way past. The girl told me that there was a $3.50 public holiday surcharge, bringing the cost of my large flat white up to $7.80. I explained that, no, I didn’t want to sit and be waited on, just wanted a takeaway. $7.80, she said.

Now 10% is one thing, and I would probably have paid an extra 43c without much concern. But where did $3.50 come from???

trevar 9:26 am 13 Apr 09

When I do shiftwork in the community sector, only those weekdays that are being taken as public holidays attract additional penalty rates (Saturday and Sunday attract other penalty rates anyway). So, this weekend, Saturday and Sunday are like any other Saturday and Sunday and attract 50% and 70% penalties respectively. Friday and Monday, which are public holidays in the legal sense, attract 100% penalty rates.

It depends on your industry to an extent, so you should contact your union because it looks like you’re being fleeced.

If it wasn’t your workplace, I’d say name and shame!

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