Wanaka businesses doing business this Easter

Date: 18th April 2014

easter eggs

It’s possibly the busiest weekend of the year but will all #gigatownWanaka businesses be able to claim the ‘golden egg’?  Who will be the chosen ones benefiting from increased trade during Warbirds over Wanaka this Easter?  Unlike Queenstown and some other high profile tourist destinations around the country, most of Wanaka’s businesses do not have an exemption from the Easter trading laws and have to shut up shop on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  Furthermore businesses, regardless of whether open or not, must consider the increased staff cost due to the Holidays Act.

In what seems like arbitrary discrimination, most businesses in Wanaka (including the many bars) will not be able to open their doors on Friday and Sunday this week.  Those with exemptions from restricted trading are the businesses in Pembroke Mall and so-called essential businesses, such as service stations, dairies, food outlets, shops providing a service (such as hairdressers), real estate agencies, pharmacies, garden centres and souvenir shops.

As reported by Stuff, Business, Innovation & Employment Ministry communications advisor Philippa Norman said exemptions used to be issued under the Shop Trading Hours Act (1977).  “However, following changes to the law under the Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal Act 1990 it is now no longer possible to apply for exemptions, with the Shop Trading Hours Commission that used to sit and hear cases for exemptions now disestablished.”

Waitaki MP and tourism parliamentary private secretary Jacqui Dean, who has been on a unsuccessful crusade for the past eight years to allow shops to open on Easter Sunday, said she still believed it was “glaringly obvious” Wanaka businesses should be able to operate at Easter. Dean’s bill to allow shops to open was voted down in Parliament for the second time in 2012, with 70 votes against the bill and 49 votes in favour.

The only way Wanaka would be able to ever trade at Easter was if there was a change in the trading act in parliament and it would be a year after a decision was made to come into effect, she said.

Payroll considerations

Employees who normally work on a Friday or Monday will be entitled to a paid day off. If your employees are required to work, they will be entitled to time and a half for the hours worked on those days, and an alternative holiday if the day is otherwise a working day for the employee.

It’s a common misconception that Easter Sunday is a public holiday.  Although it is one of the days within restricted trading law, it is not a public holiday.  Therefore employees are not entitled to a paid day off or time and a half for hours worked on this day.

Restaurant surcharges

Along with the statutory holidays comes the continuing debate on whether restaurants should impose a surcharge to diners on Good Friday and Easter Monday.  Certainly it would be unreasonable to collect the surcharge on Saturday and Sunday and claim it is due to the increased costs associated with the Holidays Act.

It seems that food related businesses are yet to determine whether a surcharge actually helps cover the extra employment expenses.  The typical 15% surcharge does not go far to covering the time-and-a-half and day-in-lieu to be paid to staff.  Plus businesses need to consider whether a surcharge will put customers off and send them heading to the nearest establishment advertising ‘no surcharge’.

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