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Regulation issues at heart of non-compliance

THE Restaurant and Catering Institute claims regulating entry into the industry will do more to clean up non-compliance issues than the abolishment of Workplace Agreements.

Restaurant and Catering Institutes executive director Terry Bright made the comments after a recent report commissioned by the State Government revealed that the restaurant and catering industry was among four industries with a high incidence of under-award paying of employees.

“There should be a barrier to entry. There should be requirements such as business experience, cooking experience, industrial relations experience and a whole range of pre-entry requirements,” Mr Bright said.

He said claims that abolishing Workplace Agreements leading to better paid employees would only work if there were sufficient investigations.

“A major compliance audit happening now is finding a large number of restaurants are not complying with regulations. Unless the Department of Consumer and Environmental Protection increases its surveillance, then it will continue,” Mr Bright said.

The majority of the Restaurant and Catering Institute’s members did comply with regulations, although some had received minor infringements, he said.

Mr Bright said the institute had applied to vary the restaurant and catering award and wanted changes to the penalty rates for casual staff and changes to the definition of job descriptions.

The security industry also was named in the Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training report for the prevalence of under-award conditions and wages.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry director of employee relations Bruce Williams said the security guards outside late-night chemist shops would probably be the first to go.

“These are the guys that operate in 24/7 industries. The awards that will underpin the EEAs are nine-to-five instruments and the chemists won’t be able to afford security guards,” Mr Williams said.

Contract cleaning and retail/warehousing also were found to be paying under-award wages.

The report found 56 per cent of workplace agreements across the four industries paid less than the award, 71 per cent of agreements had no effective expiry date, 87 per cent had a span of hours greater than 12 hours and 67 per cent had no overtime provision.

Consumer and Protection Minister John Kobelke said the report confirmed his fears about the current system

“The workplace reforms we have put before Parliament provide real choice and a fair and independent assessment of the trade-off of conditions,” Mr Kobelke said.

“We are simply ensuring employees covered by State awards are provided the same protection as those under Federal awards.”

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