Warrnambool business operator bucks staff penalty rates change

Staff will be spared penalty rate pay cuts with one Warrnambool business owner saying impending changes are unfair.

Fair work: Best Western Olde Maritime owner Raj Patel will continue to pay his staff current penalty rates despite impending changes to the award. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Fair work: Best Western Olde Maritime owner Raj Patel will continue to pay his staff current penalty rates despite impending changes to the award. Picture: Morgan Hancock

From July 1, public holiday penalty rates are being reduced in line with a Fair Work Commission ruling earlier this year.

Sunday penalty rate changes, which are being introduced over three or four years starting from July 1, were welcomed at the time by some Warrnambool employers saying they could afford to open longer.

But Best Western Olde Maritime owners Raj and Bronwyn Patel will maintain existing rates for their 26 staff on Sundays and public holidays, encouraging other operators to “look after their staff”.

He said employees didn’t choose to have their pay rates cut and it wasn’t fair. “I thought as a business owner it’s good for me, but it’s not good for the people who work for me. They are sacrificing themselves to work weekends and all employees should get paid more then.”

Receptionist Emma Goetze was relieved her wage would remain the same and any change would have hurt the family’s budget. “It’s a big pressure off,” she said.

Mrs Goetze said many employees were mums who worked weekends, while their partners were home, to reduce child care costs. “If you look after your staff, your staff look after the business.”

The changes affect retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries. Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist will continue to honour penalty rates for existing staff.