How penalty rates are destroying businesses and bondage

Dear How Do I: Business?

I run a cafe in Rocky and I'm torn on the idea of penalty rates.

We've been taking penalty rates for weekends into account for 13 years now but things are getting tight on the bottom line.

I know we can make a better profit if we stopped paying overtime, but would I be able to keep my staff committed over those shifts?

Am I going to lose more in staff turnover than I am in penalty rates? How do I tell?


Naomi de Plume


Dear Naomi,

So far the law says you don't have a choice, so this is entirely hypothetical, but ...

Do your staff even know you're paying them overtime? If not, will they miss it?

Don't ask them directly - they'll begin to take notice. Ask questions around the topic, such as "Have you eaten this week?"

Are your staff unionised? Do any of them have connections with the Fair Work Ombudsman?

If not, it may be possible to convince them that new laws have been passed that have outlawed penalty rates. This works especially well News Ltd readers.

Do your staff have loved ones or close friends that would notice if they were missing? Have you considered bonding them into service?

Replacing your staff with self-serve options for customers is another option. Why have a barista when most Aussies can't tell the difference between an Ethiopian blend and International Roast?

Why pay for staff at your hole-in-the-wall cafe when you could still fund your retirement off an actual hole in the wall, a nespresso machine and the kind of prices the lycra-clad cyclists of today will pay for coffee.

When all else fails, close down and blame the local council.

This column is satirical and the advice here should only be taken seriously in the mirror universe where there's another version of you wearing a moustache.

Topics:  cafe employees gary oak kieran salsone opinion penalty rates satire small business

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