Restaurants and cafes across Australia say that they will be forced to choose between either losing money, or closing over the Easter long weekend due to exceptionally high penalty rates which will result in casual workers earning up to $45 per hour.

Restaurateurs around the country that choose to close during the public holidays risk losing Friday night trade for two weeks in a row as the Anzac day holiday falls exactly a week after Good Friday.

Keith Ashley, owner of Perth’s Butterworth Bar and Kitchen has chosen to close his restaurant for the entire long weekend as he says that it will be near impossible to make a profit due to the high cost of staff.  

"Even if we wanted to do breakfast or anything like that, it's virtually impossible," Ashley told The West Australian. "Imagine how many bacon and egg sandwiches you have to sell to cover just one of your staff for one hour.

"If we don't open our customers go somewhere else and we may not get them back. But if we do open, we open at a loss so what do you do?"

Owner of Perth’s Beaufort Street Merchant restaurant, Scott Taylor echoed Ashley’s comments, stating that he will open his inner city venue, The Trustee on Saturday, but remain closed for the rest of the weekend.

"It's not a rational or economic decision to stay open," he said. "You can't make money on public holidays."

A recent poll conducted by Hospitality magazine drew similar conclusions. The poll found that 66 percent of respondents planned to keep their doors shut over the holiday period with a total of 55.98 percent of respondents citing exorbitant public holiday penalty rates as the key barrier – so much so that operating over Easter would in fact prove unprofitable.

Earlier this year, the  federal government requested that the Fair Work Commission consider the impact of employment costs on a business’ bottom-line, as part of its current review of the modern awards system.


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