Cafe owners broadly support IR changes, but “grey areas” remain


Source: Unsplash/Kyle Ryan.

Cafe owners are not fazed by the Morrison government’s plan to require employers to offer their long-term casual staff full- or part-time contracts. But, they want to see a simplification of the award system.

“I’m all for rewarding people who want to stay on after 12 months,” Lucky Penny cafe owner Matt Lanigan says.

Lanigan currently has 15 staff — including five full-time staff and 10 casual employees — working at his hospitality venue in South Yarra.

For the Chapel St cafe owner, ensuring long-term casual staff have the option to change to full- or part-time contracts is a positive change.

“If you’ve got someone working with you for 12 months, especially in hospitality, and they want to stick around and they’re a good fit for the business, I think it’s a good thing,” he says.

Lanigan is pleased the change would avoid the possibility of ‘double-dipping’ by ensuring employees are not able to claim both casual loading and permanent employee entitlements.

With 16 years of experience running his own businesses, Lanigan says wages are one of the most difficult parts of doing business, and any steps the government takes to simplify the process are welcome.

“Wages over that time have almost made it impossible to find a viable business model unless it’s purely focused on alcohol,” he says.

The federal government’s industrial relations reform package is set to be introduced to parliament this week, after Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter led working groups in five key areas — two of which were casual employment and industry awards.

Under the changes, the government will reportedly seek to legislate the requirement for employers to offer full- or part-time contracts to casual employees after a year as well as make changes to some industry awards, including retail, hospitality, restaurants and licensed clubs.

Employers could choose to pay a higher loaded rate to staff instead of paying penalties, which is intended to make it simpler for employers.

Speaking to SmartComany, Dilly Daly owner Melissa Glentis says she wants to see a complete overhaul of the hospitality award because it’s too complex and sets even trained professionals up to fail.

“I just think that there needs to be an overhaul of the entire award to simplify it. There are so many levels, so many different categories, so many grey areas — the government needs to clear it up,” Glentis says.

Glentis has 11 employees working at her Chapel St cafe — four are employed full-time, one works part-time, and the rest are casual staff working 10–20 hours a week.

When asked whether she supported the plan to require employers to offer casual staff a full- or part-time contract after 12 months, Glentis said she was not against it.

“The reason why cafe owners hire casuals is because the work is so inconsistent, but it does place that added strain of having to offer that full-time role come 12 months,” she says.

“I don’t see the reason why a business owner wouldn’t offer somebody who has been working in that business fulfilling full-time hours, or a full-time role, if the work is there.”

“It will absolutely not affect my hiring,” she says.


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