CAFE Latte owner Aaron Wright said weekend penalty rates for workers would continue to force small businesses to close on Sundays and public holidays.
Mr Wright said Monday’s Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision to keep penalty rates unchanged for retail, fast food and hospitality workers would continue to challenge small business operators.
FWC had considered a push by employers to halve penalty rates paid to employees on Sundays and remove the 25 per cent penalty rate for evening work.
Mr Wright said high penalty rates were the main factor in his decision not to operate on Sundays.
“We never operate on a public holiday because we can’t afford it,” he said.
“Especially with kitchen staff, they don’t want to work if they’re not getting the rates.
“It probably does protect the workers but from a small business point of view it does make it hard to operate ... there needs to be more support for small business.”
Orange restaurant worker Brent Riach said while he understood paying high penalty rates was difficult for small businesses, they were part of the attraction for workers in the industry.
“You get a couple of hundred dollars just working on a Sunday,” he said.
Mr Riach said if penalty rates were abolished the hospitality industry would lose a lot of its long-term workers.
“I think you’d find it hard to get people to work on a weekend,” he said.
FWC’s decision has raised the ire of NSW Business Chamber director and Orange businesswoman Ellie Brown.
“It’s an absolute kick in the guts for small business owners ...we’ll lose businesses because they can’t afford to operated under the current conditions,” she said.
Ms Brown said the Business Chamber would prefer all workers be paid a set rate for their usual five-day working week, no matter what day their shifts fell on.
“They do their normal shifts at normal rates and any overtime shifts attract penalty rates,” she said.
The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Union national secretary Joe de Bruyn hailed the decision as a victory for workers.
“[It] proves once again that penalty rates are as fair and relevant as ever for people who have to work evening and weekend,” he said.