Reducing Sunday penalty rates could damage the hospitality industry, said business owner Emma Huber.
Ms Huber owns Wollongong cafe Sandy Goodwich and Bulli restaurant Eat at Sandy’s with her partner Yon Miller.
Sunday penalty rates for hospitality workers – and in some other sectors – will fall from this weekend, following a February ruling by the Fair Work Commission.
The cuts will be phased in over four years and will see Sunday rates drop from 200 per cent to either 175 or 150 per cent.
Ms Huber said she would continue to pay staff about both venues the normal Sunday penalties, rather that cutting them – because she worked right alongside them.
“I wouldn’t pay myself any less just because it was changed by government,” Ms Huber said.
“Standing next to these guys I can’t look them in the eye and pay them any less for what they do when it’s exactly the same as what they were doing last week.”
Ms Huber pointed out that the rate cuts only affect full and part-time employees but not the more transient casual workers.
She said this meant the cuts impacted on those the hospitality industry needed the most.
“They’re the ones who have decided to give their lives to the industry,” Ms Huber said.
“They’re the ones who have trained two, three or four years as an apprentice or they’ve done a hospitality certificate.
“They’re the ones who are being given a disincentive to stay in the industry long-term.”
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris was calling on more businesses to follow Sandy Goodwich’s lead and not cut Sunday penalty rates.
“This does not stop an employer from continuing business as usual and paying the same rates,” Mr Rorris said of the Fair Work Commission ruling.
“All it says is they are able to reduce those for award-based workers if they choose.”
The cuts would still see workers paid at least time and a half on Sunday but Mr Rorris said some people would sorely miss the extra cash.
“For many employees that is the extra money that they rely on to get the things for themselves or their families to actually get ahead,” Mr Rorris said.
“That is the important part because it’s over and above the expenses that they can’t cut. They can’t cut their rent, they can’t cut many of their day-to-day bills.
Mr Rorris pointed out that the $22 rise in minimum wage also kicked in this weekend, which meant most workers should actually see a rise in their pay packets despite any cuts in penalty rates.