Signs local business not supporting penalty rate cuts

Penalty rate debate: Liverpool business man Harry Hunt says he is happy to pay his housekeeping staff weekend penalty rates but says the issue is complex. Picture: Peter Rae
Penalty rate debate: Liverpool business man Harry Hunt says he is happy to pay his housekeeping staff weekend penalty rates but says the issue is complex. Picture: Peter Rae

Two Liverpool business owners have shared their concerns over the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut weekend penalty rates.

Businessman Harry Hunt, owner of the Country Comfort Hunts Liverpool, says the well-being and trust of his employees far out ways the money he would save from adopting the cuts.

“The idea of the penalty rates, firstly I think a lot more research should have been done into it and I like to question how many people it is actually involving. A lot of people are on contracts or workplace agreements so it would't affect them at all,” he said.

"The only areas that I can see it good for is country areas, where they struggle and they don't have the margins for the price of food and accommodation to cover the weekends.

"Where if you take for example the larger hotels in the city that are on massive margins, to take a couple of dollars off an hour just doesn't seem right.

"I for one am not going to reduce the pay of any of my staff."

Mr Hunt said he has about 20 to 30 staff working on any given day, regardless on if it's a week day or weekend.

"The bigger picture is, it is really not that much in dollars.. For me it is also a personal thing, I have a lot of staff who have been with me a long long time," he said.

"A lot of them work casual and part-time and the extra bit they get on the weekend justifies them giving up their time with their families, so they can put that extra money towards their weekly family budget.

"I understand that for a smaller business that extra couple of thousand dollars at the end of the year would be critical, but for a medium to large business they can always adjust pricing to cover it.”

Similarly, Jeff Gough director of the Liverpool Glass Company, said he would run the risk of losing his employees if he were to implement any cuts to penalty rates.

“If I could run the weekend and break even or make just $1, I would be happy to make it up during the week just to keep my good staff happy,” he said.

“A happy work environment is a successful work environment and should lead to a successful business.

“But I am not every business owner and unfortunately not all think of the well being of there staff first.”

WHY WERE THE PENALTY RATES REVIEWED? 

Hospitality and retail sectors made applications to vary penalty rate provisions as part of the Fair Work Commission's four-yearly review. 

WHICH AWARDS WERE REVIEWED? 

Fast food, retail, hospitality, pharmacy, clubs and restaurants.