Each year since 1971 the Coffs Harbour City Council has applied for a local public holiday (or part day) to coincide with the running of the Coffs Cup horse racing event.

In 2013, the council after consultation with stakeholders changed the annual application to become a part-day public holiday (12pm – 5:30pm).

Now Council is seeking consultation from the chamber as a stakeholder representing the business community as to whether they should continue with this application, or consider an application for a local event day (or part day).

Before we go any further it would be prudent to provide some clarity around the terminology and its implications.

Local Public Holiday (or part day) – is declared under the Public Holidays Act 2010 and has the implications that businesses are obliged under the National Employment Standards (determined by Fair Work Australia) that either employees are entitled to be absent from work, or if required to work would have an entitlement to penalty rates as per their relevant Modern Award.

Local Event Day (or part day) – this situation provides much more flexibility for businesses, employees and the community if declared as a “local event day (or part day)” entitlements to be absent or to access penalty rates is agreed at a workplace level.

Therefore, businesses aren’t left with financial burden and decisions around whether to open or close, whether to have staff come in for just 3 hours (9-12) before the Local Public Holiday commences.

For employees there may be less opportunity to access paid work time, particularly those on casual arrangements.

Local public holidays are particularly prohibitive to hospitality and service providers whose hand may be forced financially to just be closed on these days (or part days).

Bearing in mind that the remainder of the country is operating as normal there is the potential for missed opportunity, upset customers who can’t access usual services, casual staff not being able to work, lack of businesses being open to the general community who aren’t availing themselves of the “local event” and who are carrying on life as normal within the local community.

The chamber will be collating responses on behalf of businesses wishing to have their say and will be providing the council with the details of responses received.

The Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce encourages all stakeholders to make the most of the opportunity to have your voice heard.

If you would like to be represented please forward your submission by close of business Wednesday, November 2 to the chamber at info@coffschamber.com.au