Peak industry body, Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA), has used data released by the ABS to call for workplace reform, arguing the hospitality sector could offer underemployed youth up to 64,200 additional hours of weekend work.

The ABS' Participation, Job Search and Mobility Survey found that in February 2016 there were one million underemployed workers, of whom 945,400 worked part time. Thirty-four percent of underemployed part time workers aged between 15 and 19 had experienced insufficient work for one year or more, with underemployed staff seeking, on average, an extra 13.5 hours of work per week.

Females made up 60 percent of all underemployed part time workers.

"Of the underemployed part time workers, 551,700 had a non-school qualification. Of these, 37 percent had a bachelor degree or higher," said Jacqui Jones, program manager of Labour and Income Branch at the ABS.

R&CA CEO John Hart said hospitality poses a viable solution to youth underemployment.

“Cafes and restaurants are the largest employers of young Australians, with 43 percent of our staff aged between 15 and 24. This same cohort represents just 16 percent of total employment.

“Youth unemployment is at an all-time high. Employers want to open longer and employees want more shifts. We need to shift the roadblock to making this happen,” Hart said.

In 2015 Jetty Research conducted a random national telephone survey of 1,000 restaurant and caf owners and managers, designed to provide statistical evidence relating to the effects on restaurant and caf operators of Sunday and public holiday penalty rates. The survey found that businesses would, on average, open an additional 5.07 hours and employ an additional 3.15 staff on the weekend if there was reform to weekend pay rates. This would equate to an additional 64,200 hours and 50,600 jobs nationally across the industry.

“The Productivity Commission recognised hospitality isn’t a traditional nine to five sector. We need an industrial relations system that better meets the needs of both employers and employees,” Hart said.

“It’s a huge concern that our workplace relations system forces businesses to close and defer offering additional shifts. This is hardly the right framework to encourage growth in one of Australia’s largest export sectors.”

Click here for other key findings from the Participation, Job Search and Mobility, Australia survey.


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