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No Xmas penalties for VIC, SA workers

Unions have renewed calls for all states to declare Christmas Day a public holiday so workers can be awarded penalty rates.

Workers in Victoria and South Australia will be the only ones to miss out on penalty rates for working on Christmas Day.

The governments of NSW, Western Australia, Queensland, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT have declared Christmas Day a public holiday.

Workers in those states will receive penalty rates for working on the Saturday public holiday.

Unions including the Liquor, Manufacturing and Hospitality Union and the Australian Nursing Federation applied to Fair Work Australia to allow penalty rates for people working on Christmas Day in states where it was not a public holiday.

But Fair Work said the penalty rate was not a prevailing standard in a number of modern awards.

"We do not think the non-inclusion of the additional penalty rate in respect of Christmas Day in the modern awards before us can be regarded as an error in the sense intended by s.160 of the Fair Work Act," its ruling said.

Fair Work Australia deleted a clause of the Manufacturing Award which the Australian Industry Group sought to change to say where Christmas Day falls on a Saturday, then December 27 is the recognised holiday.

The ACTU, CFMEU, Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union and other unions were successful in calling for Fair Work to delete the clause which they said was ambiguous and created uncertainty on the issue.

Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt put a motion in the lower house of parliament last week noting that workers in a number of states and territories would not receive public holiday penalty rates.

Bandt said it was unjust for employees who have to work on Christmas day not to receive appropriate remuneration for sacrificing time with family and friends.

He called on the government to ensure a common standard across the nation for public holiday penalty rates paid to workers on Christmas Day regardless of what day it falls on.

Bandt has called newly elected Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu to declare a public holiday on Christmas Day in the state.


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