(Transcript from World News Radio)
Low-paid restaurant and cafe staff will lose some of their penalty rates for working on Sundays after a long-awaited decision by the Fair Work Commission.
It’s ruled the loading for working on Sundays should drop from 75 per cent to 50 per cent, or around four dollars an hour, for some casual workers from July.
Gary Cox reports.
Lauren McCabe runs a busy cafe in Melbourne’s Federation Square.
She says the industrial commission’s decision won’t be received in the same way by everyone it affects.
“It’s good for the business – not so good for the staff. It means they’re getting paid a bit less but we can offer a bit more hours for them.”
Ms McCabe estimates the cafe will be able to save anywhere between $100 and $300 a day in wages.
She says that means more staff can be employed on busy shifts.
“We won’t extend our hours, it doesn’t matter that way, for the staff. But we will hire more staff to cover busy periods.”
Up to 40,000 hospitality workers across Australia will be paid 25-percent less once the penalty cuts come into force.
But it hasn’t persuaded Sydney cafe worker Lorraine Brewer to give up her Sunday shifts.
“I think it is not fair for the worker, but is good for the employer because he will maybe be able to employ a few more people.”
It’s estimated the penalty changes mean businesses will save $112-million each year.
The union United Voice counts hospitality workers amongst its members.
Spokesman David O’Byrne warns the decision risks creating an underclass of lower-paid workers.
“If you devalue the workers, pay them what are minimum rates wages and cut them even further you are going to struggle with service standards and that will have an impact on that business.”
Restaurant & Catering Australia chief executive John Hart can see opportunities.
He says that some businesses, now shut on Sundays, could consider reopening.
“We have moved on from having sacrosanct weekends. We have moved on from having Saturday and Sunday being different days of the week from any other.”
John Hart says the industry now needs to look at what operating environment it will bring in the future.