EXPECT closures, shorter opening hours or fewer staff at work over Easter as small businesses count the cost of penalty rates across four consecutive public holidays.
Good Friday and Easter Monday are national public holidays, while Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday are declared public holidays in NSW.
The public holiday penalty rates can simply be unaffordable, businesses say.
Cafes, restaurants and retail outlets have joined an Easter campaign, led by the NSW Business Chamber, to end excessive penalty rates.
NSW Business Chamber Mid-North Coast regional manager Kellon Beard encourages discussion about penalty rates and measures to alleviate the burden on businesses.
He said employees simply weren’t getting the work, because businesses couldn’t afford to pay the penalty rates.
“We know Easter with its four back to back public holidays, will create enormous pressure on the owners of cafes, restaurants and shops across Mid-North Coast, who want to remain open to serve their customers, but at the same time simply can’t afford to open their doors due to the excessive penalty rates for their staff,” Mr Beard said.
Cedro owner Paul Strugnell expects to make a small profit if the weather is favourable when he opens the CBD café on Saturday and Sunday, but the doors will remain closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday.
“I’m not happy to pay the rates but I will,” he said about the weekend.
“I have to open for our customers.”
Saturday and Sunday are the cafe’s busiest days of the week.
Blush Skin and Body owner Melissa Heath will open the business tomorrow but the bookings are already full.
“There are disappointed tourists coming to town that just can’t get in for appointments,” she said.
“It’s frustrating for them, and the girls, because they miss out on a day’s work.”
The business has four people working on a typical Saturday but Mrs Heath will work solo tomorrow to keep costs down.
The Mid North Coast NSW Business Chamber has called on the NSW union movement to follow South Australia’s lead.
Business SA and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association have reached a landmark retail enterprise agreement which will see Saturday penalty rates abolished and Sunday and public holiday penalties reduced, in return for higher base rates of pay and guaranteed annual pay rises.
The Fair Work Ombudsman urged employers and employees to check the pay rates and entitlements over the Easter public holidays.
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