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Aruba, March 23, 2016 - SMALL businesses say they have been forced to close or reduce hours over Easter due to penalty rates.

The declaration of two more public holidays, on Easter Sunday and the Friday before the AFL Grand Final, means employers have to pay staff penalty rates.
State opposition spokesman on small and medium enterprise Neale Burgess said the public holiday on the Sunday was a double whammy for small businesses.
“Most of us appreciate our public holidays and those that work on those days ¬deserve to be appropriately ¬rewarded,” Mr Burgess said.
“However, it’s important to the health of our economy, our businesses and communities that governments carefully consider the potential consequences of imposing additional public holidays.”
He said the public holidays would affect people who could least afford it — small business and young casual workers.
Mr Burgess said Victoria now had 13 public holidays whereas other states had either 11 or 10. The managers of Richmond hotel The Rising Sun, a popular traditional hotel, said it was not economical to open the whole long weekend.
The management has posted on the hotel’s Facebook page: “We would love to be open all day every day. “But due to the government’s stance on hospitality wages we cannot afford to pay the staff such ridiculous wages, now they lose out on their hours and actually earn less wages for the week.”
Owner Pat Reardon said the hotel would not serve meals tomorrow, would open later on the other days of the Easter long weekend and would only prepare evening meals. “We have cut our hours down to billy-o,” Mr Reardon said. He said family members would assist by covering the hours in order to keep costs down.
But Mr Burgess said Premier Daniel Andrews had stated the holidays could be a boost for tourism.