Why Penalty Rates AREN’T a Bad Thing!

Posted on August 24, 2015

In recent times we’ve seen a large amount of coverage in the media about weekend penalty rates. We’ve seen any number of highly-paid professionals saying that in this day and age they need to be able to get their hair cut and buy their gourmet products on the weekends, because they’re too busy (earning a big salary) during the week. They say that times have changed and people should treat the weekends as like any other day..

BUT – if the tables were turned, and their employers asked them to work every weekend, miss catching up with their families, miss nights out with friends and family and take a couple of mid week days off instead, what do you think they would say? We reckon they’d say it wasn’t fair, that they value their weekends and that they have a right to expect their weekends off. And we don’t disagree with them on that front!

Weekend penalty rates were designed to compensate people who are prepared to give up their weekends to look after people who want to relax after a busy week at work. They were also put together in the clear knowledge that weekends are the busiest time in hospitality and that therefore, while the wage costs are higher, the take over the counter is also a lot higher. People who are prepared to work their weekends earn more when their employers are busy and less when there is less work – and fewer customers. That sounds like a reasonable balance to us!

We can all have an argument about whether Sunday and Public Holiday rates are a bit out of kilter with Saturday rates, because the ‘sacred’ nature of Sundays in Christian culture is pretty much a thing of the past.  However, if you figure that the days on which employers in hospitality earn a premium are Friday, Saturday and Sunday – then evening out Saturday and Sunday rates to compensate for the three busy days probably gets things about right. Wages are higher when earnings are higher – and that’s probably the way it ought to be.

One thing we all know is that if there are no penalty rates paid on weekends, it will be almost impossible to find casual chefs and staff to work weekends. The thousands of people who work weekends to earn a bit more than the minimum wage they are paid in hospitality Monday to Friday – or to top up the income from their Monday to Friday job – have to have an incentive to give up their valuable weekends. When people who are wealthy get on this bandwagon, they simply show how ignorant they are of life on the streets, like many of our politicians.

So regardless of what is being said out there, Chefs On The Run is a supporter of weekend penalty rates and will continue to pay them – and charge employers accordingly – unless or until the politicians change the law. And that will be a dark day for hospitality in Australia!