Hotels

Hospitality workplace relations comes under fire

Hannah Edensor

Australia’s peak hospitality bodies have welcomed fresh recommendations for reforming Aussie workplace relations.

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) have welcomed the Productivity Commission’s draft recommendations for shaking things up when it comes to workplace relations and creating a more flexible system to benefit both businesses and employment.

The recommendations were contained in the draft report on Australia’s Workplace Relations Framework, with AHA making major submissions to the Inquiry on behalf of TAA and the Accommodation Association of Australia.

The report recommends more flexible working arrangements for workers in the 24/7 hospitality industry, arguing that Sunday work should attract the same penalty rates as Saturday.

The industry is operating under totally different conditions from when penalty rates were first introduced 50 years ago, and it’s been argued that it’s time for a change.

AHA also welcomed the Productivity Commission’s finding that “procedure over substance” sometimes allowed an employee to “behave badly in a workplace, be dismissed, but get compensation because of an employer’s procedural lapses, even if no one disputes the misconduct.”

TAA’s chair Martin Ferguson said that the hotel accommodation industry was being particularly hampered by outdated workplace conditions.

“We need to create the right environment for investors in the tourism and hotel sector, while growing employment opportunities,” he said.

“The hotel industry’s profile might have changed since international hotels arrive in Australia 40 years ago, but the operating conditions don’t reflect those changes.”

“The industry is a service industry and will always be reliant on high staffing levels, but the industrial relations environment hasn’t adapted to the demands of the new economy.

“Current awards, under which some permanent staff receive 175% of their normal rates for working Sundays and 250% for working on public holidays, with even higher penalties for some casual workers, are unrealistic and a dampener on employment.

“Tourism and other service sectors need an industrial system suited to the 21st century, not to society as it was 50 years ago, when weekends were sacrosanct and Sunday was a day of rest, when most shops and restaurants were shut.

“The economy no longer operates that way, especially in tourism, where workers expect to be rostered to provide services seven days a week and in some businesses, 24 hours a day.

AHA’s ceo Stephen Ferguson added that the need for reform isn’t something that businesses should ignore.

“The Federal Government should be commended for calling for this review, and the Productivity Commission has shown leadership in placing the major issues on the table for discussion,” he said.

“It’s now up to all parties to discuss the recommendations rationally and reasonably to ensure that industries such as tourism and hospitality are best placed to grow their business, grow employment and grow service standards.”

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