National pub group Australian Venue Co. is set to spend $2 million dollars on initiatives developed to support staff who are on visas. The group, which has 16o venues across the country, shut down its operations temporarily due to COVID-19 restrictions, but has put a number of initiatives in place to ease the effect on its team.

After leave entitlements have been exhausted, employees on sponsored visas will be paid $550 a week for the duration that they are stood down. For those on temporary visas, including students and working holidayers, an initial $100,000 hardship fund has now been extended to $300,000 due to demand.

That brings AVC’s total spend on support for workers that are ineligible for government support, such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker, to over $2 million dollars.

While all but 10 of its venues are closed to the public, AVC’s resources are not going to waste. An initial $150,000 fund has been set aside to cover the cost of preparing 50,000 meals for any employees in need, with over 1,100 meals collected each week so far.

Support is also being extended to non-AVC hospitality workers too; anyone from an out-of-work bartenders to a musician who’s lost income from live gigs, can claim a $3 takeaway meal by submitting a form on the AVC website. These meals are available to be picked up from The Hawthorn Hotel in Melbourne on Wednesdays between 12pm and 4pm and Smith St Social in Darwin on Wednesdays and Fridays between 3pm and 5pm.

“At Australian Venue Co., we want to do our best to support our employees during this time of uncertainty,” said CEO Paul Waterson. “We believe that, although the hospitality industry is suffering at the moment, those who can support their staff and the wider hospitality industry should and are doing what they can.

“The last couple of months have been catastrophic for the hospitality industry but we are proud to be part of an industry which has proved itself to be resilient, supportive and as hard working as ever at this difficult time. We will do everything we can to support it now, and when we enter the pathway to recovery.”

Businesses across the industry have implemented initiatives to support hospitality workers doing it tough due to COVID-19 restrictions. Melbourne restaurateur Jessi Singh staged a Temporary Resident Takeover at two of his venues, while Signature Hospitality Group prioritised visa holders when implementing its takeaway and delivery offering.

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