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Labour shuts NZ down for Easter

Wayne Mapp - National Party Industrial Relations Spokesman

23 March 2005

Labour shuts NZ down for Easter

National’s Industrial Relations spokesman, Wayne Mapp, says Labour’s employment laws will see many bars, restaurants and cafes shut over Easter.

Over the Christmas–New Year period, about one third of bars and eateries closed due to the additional costs associated with the Holidays Act.

Dr Mapp says he expects that figure to be higher over Easter as a result of the financial impact on previous public holidays.

Under Labour’s new Holidays Act, staff who work on a public holiday are paid time-and-a-half for hours worked, as well as receiving a day off in lieu.

Dr Mapp says this effectively means that labour costs are 150% higher on a public holiday than on a normal working day.

“In the hospitality industry, where wages generally account for one third of costs, this simply means many businesses will run at a loss on public holidays. Others will impose a surcharge to try to counter the extra costs.

“In a typical bar where workers earn about $12 per hour, employers will pay $18 on public holidays, as well as the cost of a day in lieu. This soon adds up over the course of 11 public holidays.”

The owner of a Queenstown winery estimates that if his business stayed open the Holidays Act would cost $75,000 over the 11 public holidays, which is more than he would expect to bring in on those days.

“When restaurants, bars and cafes close on public holidays, everyone loses – employees don’t get paid, businesses don’t make any profit and people don’t have anywhere to go for a coffee. The law around working on public holidays worked better for everyone before the implementation of the Holidays Act,” says Dr Mapp.

“The Holidays Act marks a return to the bad old days when New Zealand shut down on public holidays. That’s just not realistic in this day and age, and foreign visitors must think they have stepped back into the dark ages.”

The next National Government will overhaul the Act to ensure employers do not face the costs that see so many businesses close on public holidays.

ENDS

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