20/05/2010 - 00:00

Employers want a fair go from laws

20/05/2010 - 00:00

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THE federal government has come under fire amid claims its new industrial relations laws leave some workers worse off, and prevents some Western Australian businesses from growing.

Employers want a fair go from laws

THE federal government has come under fire amid claims its new industrial relations laws leave some workers worse off, and prevents some Western Australian businesses from growing.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said before the 2007 federal election that workers would not be disadvantaged under his Fair Work Australia legislation.

However, Rockingham-based Prestige Catering managing director, Michael McCafferty, believes some of his employees, as well as his small business, have been negatively affected by the IR changes, which came into effect on January 1.

“As a small business, Fair Work Australia has had a massive impact on our business,” Mr McCafferty told the WA Business News boardroom forum.

“The number one issue for us is that we’ve had to put hiring on hold.”

Mr McCafferty said because the Fair Work Act prohibited shifts of less than three hours a day for part-time workers, it was no longer viable for his business to employ them.

Under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010, which covers a range of businesses including catering companies, registered clubs, hospitals and restaurants, casual employees must work a minimum of two hours, and must be paid a casual loading of 25 per cent.

Casual employees receive, inclusive of the casual loading rate, a penalty rate of 250 per cent of the minimum wage for working public holidays, 175 per cent penalty rate for working Sundays, and 150 per cent for working on Saturdays.

“In the past the market’s dictated that we needed to look after our staff and to recruit, but now for the first time we need an IR consultant to be able to employ people because a lot of small businesses believe they’re doing the right thing but then they find out that they are getting it wrong,” Mr McCafferty said.

“There’s an added expense because of it and that’s put our growth on hold.

“Weekends had been our biggest area of income and now it isn’t viable to trade on a Sunday; it isn’t viable to pay a casual wait staff to service a function on a public holiday.”

Mr McCafferty said this was threatening the viability of Prestige Catering.

“Up until now, we’ve had a really flexible system that has worked well for us and it has worked well for our employees,” he said.

“As we’ve grown, we’ve converted many of our casuals to part-time, but now we can’t do that.

“So we just said, ‘right we’re having no more part-time employees’.”

Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief executive James Pearson said the Rudd government’s legislation appeared to be taking away an employer’s ability to employ more people.

“It’s not fair, it’s not fair work at all,” he said.

Small Business Development Corporation acting managing director, Jacky Finlayson, told the roundtable it was concerning to hear WA businesses such as Prestige Catering could not grow as a result of the new workplace relations regime.

“With WA’s economy poised as it is for strong economic growth, it’s the most appalling thing to hear businesses are putting their recruitment on hold and having to change the whole way they go about employment,” she said.

“Small to medium enterprises are the ones that actually generate employment in the state.”

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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