Earlier this week I shared an article on my personal Facebook account about the Boxing Day public holiday. It is no secret I still work a few hours at a national retailer to make sure there are enough dollars in the bank will my creative energy is invested in Mirage. In the past 2 years the state government has relaxed legislation allowing retailers outside of Sydney to open on Boxing Day. This move means employees of retailers are forced to work on this day. Before I get a heap of comments arguing that no one is "forced" to work the day and that they have the right to say no, let me highlight the power imbalance of this and the realities, for instance saying no could mean that over the next rosters your shifts are changed to less accessible hours as punishment for such a move or for a casual staff member the disappearing hours in the next published roster.
Just so we are all clear, I am against this change personally, not that I really care about working. Right now my family situation means I don't need to attend anything important on Boxing Day so I'm happy to work. But what I'm against is the shrinking dedicated family time our society deems important. Sure, the next arguement is always something about service workers like Police, Ambulance or Fire brigade, but they work a 24hr 365 rotating roster that is very clear when you signup for service. I'm talking about people that previously had 2 days off for the Christmas break that as of last year only now get 1. I'm talking about the comment to society on the value of a break, of catching up with family and friends, of slowing down before the next year begins.
Finally the idea that penalty rates make up for this doesn't stack up when the data suggests that more than 80% of retail employees would prefer to have that extra day than work.
I've had a lot of people suggest "if you don't like it, choose a different industry" and to them I am truly impressed that they believe it is as simple as getting a new job and shifting into a new industry. I'm not alone in furthering studies to make this same shift and then realising that the work that you believed would be available just doesn't exist.
If you've read this far you are probably thinking something like 'who cares what your problems are, we all have hardships' and you are right. This isn't what the article is about. It's a question to society on what we value. Honestly, am I alone in thinking that holidays are important? That these few days each year where almost the whole country stops are a much needed time for people to see one another without boundaries, to reflect if nothing else. I do understand that these time of year can also be a struggle for members of the community, but they can also be a chance to heal and help.
At this point, shops are open for 360.5/365 days, are those few days they are closed important?