Retailers say proposed changes to the penalty rates for the Christmas and New Year period will hurt small businesses and consumers.

The Holiday Amendments Bill, proposed today in Parliament, would see additional public holidays this year for Christmas Day and New Years Day.

Kathy Quinn reports.

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Restaurants and retail outlets are likely to be hit with a double-up of public holidays this festive season.

Christmas and New Years Day this year both fall on a Saturday.

Under the current system, workers who are rostered on for these days would not be entitled to any extra penalty rates, other than the usual time-and-a-half rate paid on Saturdays.

Cameron Dick, Qld Industrial Relations Minister: “The Bligh government is moving to right this wrong and will introduce legislation today to ensure that Queenslanders working on these special days, and who are required to be away from their families, will get the penalty rates they deserve.”

The changes mean there will be three public holidays observed for Christmas and Boxing Day.

Cameron Dick, Qld Industrial Relations Minister: “The only person likely to object to workers being paid their proper entitlements on Christmas Day would be Ebenezer Scrooge himself.”

Him and the United Retail Federation.

National President Scott Driscoll says it will hurt small businesses and consumers.

Scott Driscoll, United Retail Federation: “Time and a half from a Saturday, through to double time and a half, is a very, very big impost on small businesses.”

Queenslanders have some sympathy for employers.

Vox 1: “It’ll be a case of that the boss will have to work because, as a small business, she can’t really afford to pay for that much overtime.”

Vox 2: “You shouldn’t have to pay someone twice for a public holiday that’s always been a public holiday.”

Vox 3: “It’s not their fault that they should have to pay all this extra money but yeah, really good for the employees.”

The Government says the changes will bring Queensland into line with New South Wales and Western Australia which already treat Christmas Day as a public holiday.

Kathy Quinn, QUT News.