Martin Lange.
Martin Lange.

New pay rise for hospitality workers may ‘wreak havoc’

PLENTY of hospitality operators are already battling to stay afloat, relying on razor thin profit margins which don't afford them a lot of wiggle room for error.

Now they face another body blow thanks to new wage rules coming into effect this Sunday courtesy of the Fair Work Commission.

Under the changes, salaried staff working in restaurants, cafes and bars will have to be paid extra if they work more than 16 hours across night shifts and weekends during any given week.

Working more than 10 hours of overtime in the week will also trigger extra pay.

Venue operators across Queensland have taken to social media to blast the looming cash squeeze, which they claim has been imposed on them with little or no consultation.

They say the new policy will force owners to deploy more staff on a casual basis, close earlier and take other drastic steps to survive.

Martin Lange
Martin Lange

Ben Walsh, who operates Miss Moneypenny's outlets at Noosa and Broadbeach, predicted the extra cost burden "has the potential to wreak havoc among the industry''.

"It's going to make it absolutely pointless to hire mid-level salaried staff any longer,'' Walsh told City Beat.

"It's making it very close to impossible to operate a business in the food and beverage industry. This will result in closures.''

Seasoned industry player Martin Lange (illustrated) has been madly consulting lawyers and accountants about the impact on his well-regarded Brisbane bar group, which includes Cobbler, Savile Row, Finney Isles and Death & Taxes.

He estimates the new rules could cost him an extra $100,000 a year just for one of his venues, effectively wiping out his profit.

"The government is forcing us to put them on casual rates but for the staff it will be a nightmare. All of my staff is on full-time wages. Now it will be harder for me to get good quality staff,'' he said.

Ryan Lane, co-owner of Proof BBQ & Booze in Brisbane, summed up the view of plenty of his industry colleagues.

"This is completely f---ing stupid,'' he posted on his Facebook page. "What little life our industry was holding onto is now f---ing dead and buried! RIP Australian Hospitality.''

We had hoped to hear from the Fair Work Commission and Queensland and the Queensland Hotels Association but they didn't return our calls yesterday.