Yass responds to cuts to penalty rate

Yass Valley cafe owners have mixed feelings about affects to trade afterthe coalitions decision on Thursday to cuttoweekend penalty rates.

The slashes totake-home pay came after a landmark ruling by the national workplace umpire.

The Fair Work Commission on Thursday morning announced existing levels of Sunday penalty rates paid in retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries will be reduced from the existing levels, which, in some cases, are as much as “double time”.

Full-time and part-time workers in retail will have their Sunday penalty rates dropped from 200 per cent to 150 per cent of their standard hourly rate, while casuals will go from 200 per cent to 175 per cent.

Hospitality employees will face a reduction in Sunday pay from 175 per cent to 150 per cent, while casual hospitality workers’ pay will remain unchanged.

Fast-food employees’ Sunday rates will go from 150 per cent to 125 per cent for full-time and part-time staff, and casuals will go from 200 per cent to 175 per cent.

Each taking effect from July 2017.

With Yass’sidentityasa commuter and tourist town much of the trade for businesses such as cafe’s occur on weekends and public holidays.

Yet, not all businesses open on a weekend.

At present, four Yass Cafe’s open on a Sunday and few open on public holidays.

For Thyme to Taste Cafe owner Andrew Dodds the decision to open on Sunday’s isn’t controlled by employee wages but to a lifestyle choice.

“On most Sunday’s we we and have one employee,” he said. “Those employee’s are casuals anyway so we’re still paying them the weekend loading.”

“I personally disagree with the decision, when you open a business you take into consideration that holiday and weekend rates will apply and you account for that. So it really just comes down to whether you want to open your doors on the weekendor not.

“It comes down to family life balance, which iswhat Yass is about. You’re not just a face behind the counter you become part of the community, supportit by employing kids. If your business gets the trade on the weekend, you are providing a space where people can come and be sociable and enjoy Yass.”

For most cafe’s open around Yass their employees are casual and unaffected by the cuts.

“It actually doesn’t affect us at all,” EmmaLuckiefromKaffeinein Yass said.

“We emply casuals so we have to continue paying the rates. But regardless, I completely disagree with the decision.”

“For us, we open most public holidays and at the weekend and people appreciate it because they can get a cup of coffee on their days off. We charge the 10 per cent surcharge on public holidays, but we’re there to do a job, it’s what you sign up for.”

For Yass Valley residents, the news comes as a shock, many taking to social media to voice concerns.

One resident, Stephen Hodgkinwrites: “It’s a race to the bottom.As a long term employer it’s stupid short sighted policy trying to appeal to the cafe set.OK so coles, Woolworth’s, MacDonald’s, 7 eleven at all have already figured out how to extract every last drop from the stone, so it only affects an ever shrinking group of the lowly paid.

“But it’s miserly and miserable.If you want me to come to your cafe / restaurant at all hours why not pay your workers extra.”

“I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. This whole thing didn’t originate as a partisan issue though. I’ll be interested to see if any more businesses in Yass might open on a Sunday where they currently don’t,”Nicholas James.

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