Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Rochester owners happy with rates changes

District hotels and businesses may change rosters with penalty rates for casual employees on Sundays set to be cut.

GRAHAM WILLIS September 3, 2014 3:55am

District hotels and businesses may change Sunday staffing rosters with penalty rates for casual employees on Sundays set to be cut from 175 per cent to 150 per cent.

The original decision to reduce rates was made in May after months of lobbying by Restaurant and Catering Australia, but it was only last week an appeal against that decision was rejected by the full Federal Court.

The appeal was lodged by hospitality union United Voice.

Rochester’s Criterion Hotel owner Adam Parker said his business dealt with different cost structures for various times and days.

While Sundays had been reduced, he still saw a concern when it came to public holidays.

‘‘On Boxing Day our staff earn up to $50 an hour, which makes it touch and go whether to open or not,’’ he said.

‘‘Many other businesses in the town chose to close on that day due to high labour costs.’’

Shamrock Hotel proprietor Ian Crouch finds himself working on many weekends rather than bear high penalty rates.

‘‘In today’s world people need to realise the hospitality industry is about working weekends and nights,’’ he said.

‘‘And penalty rates can’t simply be passed on to customers.’’

Many city hotels and restaurants add an extra cost to food and drink bills on public holidays to cover penalty rates.

‘‘Imagine how well that would go down in a small country town,’’ Mr Parker said.

Elmore’s Max Kennedy, who owns Oasis cafe, said the lowering of Sunday rates could give him ‘‘a bit more scope to have an extra person over lunch for three to four hours’’.

‘‘Being a small business, it’s very hard to balance whether you should open on weekends or not,’’ he said.

The reduction does not include career employees, including casual workers working regular or full-time hours.

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