The AHA(WA) has welcomed comments made by the West Australian premier, Colin Barnett, that a re-elected Liberal/Coalition government will address the issue of penalty rates, often referred to as a key inhibitor to profitability in the hospitality sector.
Australian Hotels Association (WA) CEO, Bradley Woods, said that like Barnett, the association is not against penalty rates, but believes Sunday rates need to be reassessed.
“Restaurants, pubs, hotels, retailers and service providers have consistently indicated that they would be more prepared to trade and hire extra staff if the penalties for opening on weekends and on public holidays weren’t so excessive.
“The AHA(WA) supports penalty rates for Sundays and public holidays at a Saturday rate, which is 150 percent of a worker’s hourly rate.
“The burden of penalty rates means that on Sundays and public holidays many small businesses can’t afford to open, meaning less productivity and less wages for local workers.
“It’s often the case that for businesses that do open on public holidays, costs have to be passed on to consumers,” said Woods.
Woods added that high penalty rates are also limiting the state’s competitiveness.
“It is disappointing that at a time when WA needs to be focused on attracting more visitors, and travellers are expecting the highest level of service, the costs associated with penalty rates make it impossible for hotels to deliver the service levels they would like to,” he said.
According to Perthnow, while the federal government has industrial relations jurisdiction over most mid-to-large businesses, the state manages that of small and micro-businesses.
Barnett said his intention to look at the state's awards is a key differentiator between his campaign and that of Labor’s Mark McGowan, who is not considering any change to the penalty rate structure and said that cutting them is not the solution to improving Western Australia’s 6.5 percent unemployment rate.