The Fair Work Commission’s decision to reduce Sunday and public holiday penalty rates will lead to positive employment outcomes in the hospitality sector, said Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA).

R&CA CEO, John Hart said he is pleased the Fair Work Commission has acknowledged the differences in hospitality work to traditional sectors, but highlighted the association’s disappointment in leaving the Restaurant Industry Award largely unchanged, pending further submissions.

Key among the decisions include:

  • A reduction in the Sunday penalty for full and part-time workers under the Hospitality Award from 175 percent to 150 percent;
  • A reduction in the public holiday penalty for full and part-time workers under the Hospitality Award from 250 percent to 225 percent;
  • A reduction in the Sunday penalty for Level 1 full and part-time employees under the Fast Food Award from 150 percent to 125 percent, and a reduction from 175 percent to 150 percent for casuals;
  • A reduction in the public holiday penalty across the Hospitality, Restaurant and Fast Food Award from 250 percent to 225 percent; and
  • A reduction in the span of hours attracting the 15 percent additional payment between midnight and 6.00am under the Restaurant Industry Award.

On Saturdays, both the Hospitality Industry Award (covering caterers, pubs hotels) and the Restaurant Industry Award (covering a majority of restaurants and cafes) are subject to a rate of 125 percent for part-time and full-time workers, and 150 percent for casuals.

“The Fair Work Commission has finally got the fundamental principles right in recognising attitudes towards weekend and public holiday work have changed. The Commission has finally accepted the employment benefits of penalty rate reform, which is a huge step forward for our industry.

“It’s pleasing that the recommendations of the Productivity Commission have been given due consideration in a decision that ultimately affects the sustainability of the hospitality industry.

“[The] decision will encourage operators to offer more shifts and open longer hours for customers. However, we have missed a huge opportunity to boost employment and increase productivity in the fastest growing sector of the foodservices industry.

“Cafes and restaurants account for 69 percent of the total 824,100 jobs in the hospitality sector and 85 percent of the projected 98,800 jobs growth. The sector remains disappointed the opportunity to capitalise on this employment potential has not been realised at this stage,” Hart said.

R&CA’s claim sought to simplify weekend penalty rates, with a single rate to apply across both Saturday and Sunday at the Saturday rate. The claim was supported by findings of the Productivity Commission inquiry into workplace relations, and the FWC’s ruling harmonised Saturday and Sunday penalty rates under the Fast Food Award.

“While industry submissions to the Hospitality and Fast Food Award have led to a great outcome for employment, the restaurant industry is still waiting,” Hart said.

The decision comes as the industry continues to grapple with increased costs and softer economic conditions. R&CA’s 2016 Industry Benchmarking Report found on average staff wages and on-costs represented 44.2 percent of business turnover, up from 42.2 percent in 2015. Further,13.7 percent of businesses close on Sundays and public holidays. 


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