Wage rates in the spotlight

Wage rates have been in the spotlight all year.  Starting with 7-Eleven then McDonalds, Coles and Woollies.  Recently on the SBS Insight program Fair Work Fair Pay on 26th July 2016, wage rates again came to a head.  Particularly in the agriculture and hospitality industries.  It was worth watching, as I now understand how unscrupulous operators are scamming employees out of thousands and thousands of dollars.

Membership to Restaurant Catering Australia, our industry body, has given me access to regular award and industrial relation knowledge over the last six years and has ensured I operate my business by the Law.  Seeing the rates people were being paid on Insight allowed me to understand why the playing field is not level.  Paying a casual employee $8-$10 an hour versus an award rate of $22.35-$23.67 allows a business to keep their prices low and still maintain a good profit.  When these businesses pay cash you know they are evading their GST obligations and most of all not paying superannuation, the sleeper issue for governments of the future.

In my business, part of a new full time staff members induction involves a letter of employment stating wage rates according to their age, job and skill level.  All Restaurant Industry Award and National Employment Standards information is provided to them and is always accessible in the time sheet folder. This is a legal requirement.  As is providing a payslip showing the Superannuation that must be paid. The Government's Fair Work Commission website has a great App that will show you what rate of pay you can expect for your age, skill and type of work you do. In the hospitality industry you should not have to negotiate a pay rate (unless you are being employed at a rate above the award because of your excellent skills).

So for all those who work in hospitality, here is a summary of the award rates for this financial year.  Add to these 9.5% superannuation paid monthly if you earn $450 in a month and you should be well on your way to understanding your rights as an employee in our industry.

And lastly for the record, in 2010 the Restaurant Industry Award was linked to the National Employment Standards and the minimum wage and pay increases were factored in to increase with inflation and the CPI.  In 2010 the rate of pay for a full time Level 2 employee (waiter) was $16.03.  In 2016 it is now $18.91.  This represents an 18% pay rise over the last 6 years.  The cost of a standard cup of coffee at Cafe Derailleur started at $3.80 and is now $4.00 a rise of 5%.  In reality it should be hitting $4.50 now.   Hence the need to increase prices to cover these increasing wage costs.

Whether it be where you shop locally, nationally or internationally, as a consumer we need to ask the businesses we are buying from if they are paying their staff and the tax office correctly?  If not, we'll continue to get what we pay for.  Underpaid staff, a government that lacks the funds to operate and a sleeping superannuation issue in the future.