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Easter public holiday surcharges

By dvaey 15 April 2009 28

[First filed: April 13, 2009 @ 08:09]

I just finished working my duly rostered shifts over the easter weekend, having been asked to work over Easter as other staff were away for the weekend.  I agreed to the shifts, to help out over a busy period, as I work in a fast-food based business and most of the young staff were on school holidays or away with family.

My first issue, is to do with 10% surcharges.  My employer enforced a 10% surcharge for Good Friday, which is understandable due to the nature of the day. 

I turned up to work on Saturday and was informed the 10% surcharge was in force for the entire weekend, as according to the ACT Government, the entire Easter weekend is classified as a public holiday.  Maybe I’m out of touch with the times, but I was always taught that Jesus died on the Friday (hence the significance), and came back at midnight 3 days later, hence the significance of Easter Monday and Sunday in the church calendar.  I always believed ‘Easter Saturday’ was a normal day.  Upon further research, Saturday is now the public holiday and Easter Sunday is just the ‘normal day’.

My second and more important issue, is penalty rates over the easter weekend.  I offered to cover Good Friday, expecting that as it is a significant day, and the business was charging a surcharge, that those staff who worked would receive penalty rates for missing our long weekend.  To my surprise, I was advised that pay rates for the long weekend are the same as regular pay, and the 10% surcharge profit is simply going to the franchisee.

Can this activity be legal?  Can making under 18s work over easter for no penalty rates be fair?  Can profiting off a religious public holiday be legal?  Apparently under the new(old) workchoices agreements, they can.

Has anyone else here been charged a 10% surcharge this weekend, unaware of the fact that the workers arent receiving it, but the store owners instead?

UPDATED: Well done dvaey, The Canberra Times now reports that the Workplace Ombudsman is now on the case.


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Easter public holiday surcharges
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WP80 2:34 pm 15 Apr 09

I was under the impression that officially Good Friday, Easter Saturday & Easter Monday are public holidays. Easter Sunday is not a public holiday.

http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/2233/publicholidays2009.pdf

Madman 12:55 pm 15 Apr 09

dvaey said :

While I do have a part concern over revealing the employer concerned, as it has happened over many years and now appears to be investigated, I will name them as Pizza Hut. I have had a dispute ongoing for over 12 months over the payment of proper penalty rates or proper pay for work performed, but keep getting told my contract doesnt have provision for penalty rates, or higher pay for higher duties. For more information on the unions investigating this very issue, check out http://www.greenleft.org.au/2005/635/34209 or google for “Isaac Nakhla”, another employee who went to the media a few years ago.

I have been told this policy has been adopted by all Pizza Hut restaurants, and I believe it extends to many other brands within the same industry.

The Workplace Ombudsman has my story now, I’ll post any follow-up tidbits here if/when they come to me.

I hope you have gone to the ombudsman – because if the award covers you for penalty rates, it goes above any contract written by the employer. As someone said – it’s upheld by law.

LaLa 12:30 pm 15 Apr 09

Sigh. Should really re-read before I hit post. I neglected to mention that most times we never finished until midnight at the earliest, once even leaving at 2am. But we only ever got paid until 11.

LaLa 12:26 pm 15 Apr 09

Oops. Sorry about that misuse of the quotation device!

LaLa 12:25 pm 15 Apr 09

dvaey said :

While I do have a part concern over revealing the employer concerned, as it has happened over many years and now appears to be investigated, I will name them as Pizza Hut. quote]

Looks like Pizza Hut have not changed their ways then. I slaved for them in my final years of high school 93-94. Despite being in my senior year and asking for less shifts they rostered me on to “close” 3 – 4 nights per week. They always knocked off the other staff earlier to save money and despite the fact that we sometimes had customers sitting in the restaurant until 10.30 or 11 at night we were not paid past 11. According to Pizza Hut legend that is when the “close” should be completed.

I am glad we used to knick the cutlery and throw it across the car park. I hate them.

hellspice 12:01 pm 15 Apr 09

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

I rarely go to restuarants (other than club type food), and never go on super popular days. If you want to enjoy this kind of lifestyle, pay the surcharge. If you don’t want to pay, either go somewhere else or stay home.

Half the world doesn’t get three square meals a day, and we bitch and moan because we have to pay a bit extra to support our already extravagant lifestyles! Exercise your choices!

I refuse to pay the surchage,I just go somewhere else or not at all.

dvaey 11:25 am 15 Apr 09

While I do have a part concern over revealing the employer concerned, as it has happened over many years and now appears to be investigated, I will name them as Pizza Hut. I have had a dispute ongoing for over 12 months over the payment of proper penalty rates or proper pay for work performed, but keep getting told my contract doesnt have provision for penalty rates, or higher pay for higher duties. For more information on the unions investigating this very issue, check out http://www.greenleft.org.au/2005/635/34209 or google for “Isaac Nakhla”, another employee who went to the media a few years ago.

I have been told this policy has been adopted by all Pizza Hut restaurants, and I believe it extends to many other brands within the same industry.

The Workplace Ombudsman has my story now, I’ll post any follow-up tidbits here if/when they come to me.

Inappropriate 10:36 am 15 Apr 09

It would be great if such businesses could be named and shamed – I’d prefer to spend my money at fair and decent establishments in this current market.

I rarely go to restuarants (other than club type food), and never go on super popular days. If you want to enjoy this kind of lifestyle, pay the surcharge. If you don’t want to pay, either go somewhere else or stay home.

Half the world doesn’t get three square meals a day, and we bitch and moan because we have to pay a bit extra to support our already extravagant lifestyles! Exercise your choices!

Hugh Lews 10:02 am 15 Apr 09

So why dont/ cant you name them…??

Surely that is the point of a website like this. If they did do it then why cant you tell everyone who it was so people can choose not to go there….

Seriously. Are there any legal ramifications? And if it is fact, then why or how can there be any issue?

http://www.wo.gov.au – workplace onmbudsman

bd84 9:10 pm 13 Apr 09

It’s been an oddity for as long as I can remember that Easter Friday, Saturday and Monday are all public holidays, but Sunday isn’t. I’m guessing it’s the old rule that Sunday can’t be a public holiday. Or maybe it’s because the easter bunny has to work on sunday, so we can’t have a public holiday then…

dvaey 3:44 pm 13 Apr 09

Mike Crowther said :

As to what you should be paid, there is an award. Awards are not a suggested scale of fees, they are the law. However, if your a casual insisting on your award entitlements can result in your phone just not ringing. I suggest you keep an accurate diary of when you worked and how much you were paid for it. (Also what role you were actually performing during the shift, retail and hospitality are notorious for mis-classifying the roles their staff actually perform.) When you leave you can present them with the bill for underpayment. You union will assist you with this. (You are in your union aren’t you???)

The ‘award’ Im covered by, Ive never been shown. After the workchoices stuff came in, my franchise owner rewrote employment agreements for staff removing penalty rates, holiday/sick leave, and various other benefits. The real issue is that 90% of staff employed under this agreement are under the age of 18 and just take what they get. The other issue is that I have been with the business for several years and therefore have a staff loyalty, whether misguided or not.

I also fall victim to the ‘mis-classifying the roles’ you talked about, often being asked to perform roles such as management that I am untrained and unpaid for (no more than my regular base rate). This is common practice in the industry but I feel the general public simply arent aware that small business (or even large business) are simply profiteering off these days.

r1 3:13 pm 13 Apr 09

The hospitality industry wont change , from the big hotels to the smallest cafes they

will exploit you. The best thing to do is get out , ASAP , and find something else.

There isnt any other option

Woody Mann-Caruso 3:08 pm 13 Apr 09

I went through this crap at Dominos in Erindale last year for one long weekend or another (I don’t eat it, I just follow orders from screaming teenaged girls to buy it). It wasn’t even a public holiday – it was a Saturday, but according to the ‘manager’, the whole long weekend counts. I told them to stick their pizza where the sun doesn’t shine and walked off. The ‘manager’ was priceless:

“But…you have to pay for all of these!”
“No, I’m not hungry anymore.”

And a 100% markup for a coffee? F_ck. Off.

el 2:43 pm 13 Apr 09

Yep, we do Steady Eddie.

Steady Eddie 2:07 pm 13 Apr 09

Do we have another one of these f*cken pubic holidays on the Monday following Anzac Day (Apr 27)? Please tell me we don’t.

Donewrong 12:05 pm 13 Apr 09

I-filed said :

trevar said :

Donewrong; did you buy the coffee or move on?

Sounds as though you struck a junior who didn’t get it.

I can’t rule it out, but she was very definitive about it, and the other two staff were crammed in beside her in close proximity overhearing our exchange and didn’t challnge her on it.

I would love it if another RA reader went in there today and reported back!

Mike Crowther 11:21 am 13 Apr 09

Dvaey, The breakdown of Easter is as follows: We get ‘Good’ Friday off because that’s the day Christ is supposed to have died (about 3:00PM.) Saturday was traditionally not a public holiday because nothing happened that day (he was just dead). The story goes that his tomb was found empty (or he was spoken to by Mary M. depending on which Gospel you chose to believe) just after Dawn on Sunday morning (ergo, another holiday). A day off for Easter Monday was a later (welcome) addition but with no ‘historical’ rationale. Changing the actual Holiday from Sunday to the Saturday is a recent thing. (Although if like me you tend to work public hols, there is a benefit in getting P.H. rates rather than Saturday rates as Sun rates are rich enough as is).

Personally I don’t care about the surcharge so long as a business owner has the guts to admit that they are gouging and don’t try and blame it on their allegedly overpriced socialist staff. Profiteering has never been far from the hearts of local business in this town. (I remember that the price of batteries more than doubled during the bushfires.)

As to what you should be paid, there is an award. Awards are not a suggested scale of fees, they are the law. However, if your a casual insisting on your award entitlements can result in your phone just not ringing. I suggest you keep an accurate diary of when you worked and how much you were paid for it. (Also what role you were actually performing during the shift, retail and hospitality are notorious for mis-classifying the roles their staff actually perform.) When you leave you can present them with the bill for underpayment. You union will assist you with this. (You are in your union aren’t you???)

I-filed 11:20 am 13 Apr 09

trevar said :

Donewrong; did you buy the coffee or move on?

Sounds as though you struck a junior who didn’t get it. The $3.50 probably applies to a sit-down, not a take-away. Anyone going into town today and could check? It wouldn’t be fair to the business to assume management would charge double. It simply wouldn’t make business sense.

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