Paying the “true cost”
Posted on 06:00, February 8th, 2009 by Anita
Over at The Hand Mirror Anna has a post up about the anti-worker sentiment expressed by the 15% holiday surcharge, and I totally agree. But … :)
One of the things about the holiday surcharge is that it passes on to me the cost of disrupting someone else’s holiday. I am asking for someone to work on their holiday, shouldn’t I pay for my convenience? Penal rates are designed, in part, to be a disincentive to employers making people work on public holidays, so it makes a certain amount of sense that is is passed on to act as a disincentive to me.
In a free market economy ideal where nothing is to be banned, price signals take the place of regulation, and price signals are only effective when the cost is paid by the decision maker. So if we have accepted the free market approach, the question in this case is who the decision maker is; the cafe owner who opens the doors, or the cafe patron who comes through them?
This illustrates one of the many downsides of relying on price signals to define acceptable behaviour: some of us can pay and some cannot; some can afford to turn down the money, some cannot. Secondly price signals very quickly turn into a price for everything and a value for nothing. if it’s worth it to your business you can open on a public holiday and pay the price, if it’s worth it to your business you can stick to the dangerous work practice and just pay the price of the deaths you cause.
So, paying 15% on a public holiday. It probably succeeds as a disincentive to some, but for many people all it does it prove that public holidays of the poor can be bought by the wealthy.