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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The annual Easter rant


Every Easter David Farrar complains that the shops have to shut on Easter and that prevents people from working. But some shops are allowed to open and some aren't. Supermarkets aren't allowed to open on Easter Sunday, which is not even a pubic holiday. That makes Easter trading laws illogical, he says.

And he's right. Although supermarkets can't open, Foursquares and Starmarts can. Shops in some areas can open, but not in others. Restaurants with on-licences can open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday for dining purposes, but customers cannot buy a drink without a meal.

Farrar says that a shop assistant can earn around $450 extra in working this Friday and Sunday. He's wrong for several reasons. Firstly, it depends on if that shop assistant is lucky enough to get $20 an hour. Secondly even if he or she did, penal rates would have to be paid on Sunday and that can't happen unless it is a public holiday. Easter Sunday is not a public holiday. Of course for a shop assistant to earn $450 extra they'd have to earn $60 an hour to get the time and a half rate for the two days :-)

As far as I'm concerned, if it is not a public holiday, the shops can stay open, and I don't care what other Christians think of that. I can't work Good Friday and Easter Monday because they are public holidays, but my employer says I can't work on Easter Sunday either,even though that is my normal working shift.

So why isn't Easter Sunday a public holiday if its good enough for Good Friday and Easter Monday? "Non-trading days like Easter Sunday should be abolished and declared public holidays. Furthermore if you are working essential services on Good Friday you get penal rates. You should be able to get them on Easter Sunday too but at present you don't because it is a "non-trading day" only. So if I go to the garden centre on Sunday and they slap on a surcharge, they`ll be getting a good telling off.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay has a private members bill that is a small step forward. It allows local communities to decide whether or not shops can open on Easter Sunday. Until Easter Sunday is declared a statutory holiday, I can see no reason why employers cannot have that choice.

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