19 July 2019

Cup overfloweth for staff as BentSpoke keeps penalty rates intact

| Lachlan Roberts
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BentSpoke owners Richard Watkins and Tracy Morgan have decided not to enforce the penalty rates cut. Photo: Supplied

Hospitality staff were filled with a sense of dread as 1 July approached, with news that their Sunday penalty rates were set to be cut yet again. But for the 35 hospitality staff working at Braddon BentSpoke Brewing Co, it was business as usual.

The Braddon pub has decided to keep existing penalty rates for their staff despite the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut Sunday penalty rates for workers under the hospitality award.

Hospitality workers on full and part-time contracts are being hauled back down to 150 per cent loading for Sundays and public holidays but it was up to individual businesses to choose to enforce the cuts.

The decision will affect the back pocket of co-owner Richard Watkins and Tracy Morgan, but Mr Watkins said the decision was an easy one.

“We didn’t do it last year as well because we feel that we rely on our staff to work during penalty rate situations all the time,” he said. “We think that it is important that our staff get paid what they should be paid.

“Hospitality staff are not normally the highest-paid people going around so to taking away that extra penalty rate is something we don’t agree with. We are open every single day of the year besides Christmas Day and we are always open on public holidays so we rely on staff being able to work.

“We are happy to pay the extra wage.”

Despite the 52 Sundays and 13 public holidays each year in Canberra, Mr Watkins said he wanted to give his staff an incentive to come to work every day and to love what they do.

“We want our staff to want to come to work and to be able to enjoy their life outside of work,” he said. “So a little bit of extra money from us not reducing our penalty rates will go along to support our staff.

“If they are giving up their time on Sundays and public holidays to come to work, they need to be compensated properly. We don’t want to end up not having enough staff to work public holidays and Sundays.

“We have a good group of staff here at BentSpoke and we feel like we offer really good customer service so we want to show that we support our staff as well.”

Mr Watkins said the smiles and the quiet thank you’s from the staff was enough reward for the duo.

“We have had staff come up to us to thank us for recognising the hard work that they do on holidays and Sundays,” he said. “It is a really good feeling when the staff thank you for what you are doing.”

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This move actually just proves why you didn’t need government mandated penalty rates in the first place.

If a business struggles to get workers for certain shifts or wants to keep good workers around and available, they have to pay them more.

Well done Bentspoke on showing why the mandated penalty rates were not needed.

The best thing for a fare employer to do, would be cut the penalty rates, but use the ‘saved’ money to pay all the workers more money. People who do the week shift have to live too. Why are only those who get the weekend shifts as part of their days working so special? Why is Sunday more special than say Tuesday? Most people don’t go to church any more. Cut the weekend rates and spread the money among all the workers; increase the basic rate. Much farer.

Exactly.

And you’ll find that in a lot of instances, those shifts attracting penalty rates are even more attractive than weekdays to groups like students because they fit in better with their other commitments.

Any business making a good profit has the option of paying above award, and many do.

Good work Bentspoke, love your beer. Bit more expensive than other places but much better quality and flavour. I will happily pay extra to cover the penalty rates.

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