HAPPY STAFF: Esther Bundellu, of The Pocket Espresso Bar, says keeping staff happy is more important than following the recommended penalty rate cuts.
HAPPY STAFF: Esther Bundellu, of The Pocket Espresso Bar, says keeping staff happy is more important than following the recommended penalty rate cuts. Sarah Dionysius

Employer chooses staff happiness over Sunday savings

RETAIL and hospitality workers across the country will have their penalty rates slashed with the start of the new financial year, but some Sunshine Coast businesses are bucking the trend to keep their staff happy.

As of yesterday, Sunday loading was brought down from 180 per cent to 160 per cent for workers in retail, hospitality, fast food, restaurant and pharmacy sectors.

A final reduction to 150 per cent will be introduced on July 1 next year.

While most businesses say the cuts come as a welcome change, some local employers have chosen to keep the Sunday loading.

Owner of The Pocket Espresso Bar at Moffat Beach, Esther Bundellu, said taking care of her 30 staff members was a priority and came "before everything".

"I don't know how I'd feel about taking that away," she said.

"We made a decision from the beginning that we would always honour what's fair, because we didn't always have a business and you really rely on your employer to do the right thing by you.

"I understand those public holiday rates are killers, but you have a choice. You don't have to open as a business. Don't whinge about it, just make the choice."

Retail and hospitality workers will have their Sunday penalty rates slashed from 180 per cent to 165 per cent. john mccutcheon

Ms Bundellu said wages were a "difficult discussion" and she wouldn't hold it against any employer who decided to follow the new Fair Work guidelines.

"Of course it's going to be more profitable for the business if we reduce those rates, but I don't feel like that would be something I could morally do to my staff, considering how hard they work for us," she said.

"A lot of my staff get paid more than me. It's really difficult as a business owner, but you just do what you have to do.

"Even though we know the cost... I think it's too important to have them (staff) doing a great job."

Are you upset about the Sunday penalty rate changes?

This poll ended on 02 August 2019.

Current Results

Yes, I rely on the higher rate.

48%

No, I think dropping it is fair.

36%

It doesn't affect me.

15%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Ms Bundellu said she felt extremely lucky to have a loyal and hard-working group of staff who she could trust to put the business first.

"We hire on personality. You can teach skills, but if you start with a great person then you're always going to get the best out of them," she said.

"I feel really blessed that we have a great crew, because they genuinely care about our business.

"If people invest emotionally into your business, then it's the best case scenario for everybody. It's very much is like a family for us."

While not all business owners were bucking the trend, keeping staff happy was still a top priority.

Roz White of White's IGA said while the business would adopt the reduced rates, there were other ways of showing staff they were valued.

"As long as we are paying our staff fairly and they feel valued, we adopt the law," she said.

"Our position is that our staff always feel valued and respected, and we provide a safe and harmonious workplace for them to be a part of."