Changes to casual work rules hits businesses hard
A CHANGE to the Fair Work award for casual hospitality employees has left small businesses scrambling to ensure staff are correctly paid.
The decision handed down by the Federal Court of Australia on May 20 saw casual employees entitled to the same benefits as full-time staff, including sick and annual leave pay.
The sudden change has seen business owners on the Granite Belt question the need for casual staff despite the unprecedented demand from tourists in the region.
Ballandean Estate Wines client relations officer Leeanne Gangemi said the business was hesitant to hire more staff while there was no casual award for fear the need for staff could be gone overnight.
"You have to employ people, but you certainly have to think long and hard about it because it's expensive and difficult if there is a problem," she said.
"In an industry like ours, where you're busy at certain times of the year it makes it difficult.
"The rules do make it harder just to employ people on a whim, you can't do that anymore; it's a tricky situation we find ourselves in."
Mrs Gangemi said the winery's 12 staff had all been transferred to a full-time wage and its subsequent entitlements, to ensure no laws were broken.
She said while the change had been made, the business was still "in limbo" regarding the hospitality award.
"We're not even 100 per cent sure what is happening with the new decision," she said.
"Everything is written there but I think there is a little bit of doubt as to whether we're doing the right thing and whether it'll bite us at a later date.
"Most people try to do the right thing by their employees, but this has come about and we don't need this uncertainty at the moment when trying to employee people."
As a small family-run business, Mrs Gangemi said it would be easy for family members to pick up the slack and take on more hours in the cellar door.
"You want to give people work, because you need them and they need it, but you question if you're making the right decision," she said.
"It's hard to put on a full-time employee when you might have work for them most of the year.
"It certainly keeps me awake at night."