Manager says hospitality staff deserve penalty rates

Young Australian Hotel manager Michelle Szpunar says looking after her staff is crucial.
Young Australian Hotel manager Michelle Szpunar says looking after her staff is crucial. Luka Kauzlaric

PUBLICAN Michelle Szpunar says keeping a low-pressure workplace helps her keep staff.

After the Australian Hotels' Association recently renewed its Memorandum of Understanding with the Fair Work Ombudsman, Ms Szpunar said her pub The Young Australian was right behind the move to ensure fairness for hospitality workers.

"We just try to cater for their (staff) needs and try to keep them happy," Ms Szpunar said.

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The experienced publican, who along with her partner Cameron Stewart has managed pubs in places like Coober Pedy, Adelaide and Rockhampton, said the key was to maintain flexibility.

"If they (staff) want time off or changes to their roster we try to keep them happy like that.

"If they've got family commitments or they want time off or something comes up out of the blue we alleviate and we help them out that way, we never deny them any time off," Ms Szpunar said.

In fact at the time of the interview, her partner Cameron was in the midst of working night shifts to cover for two of their duty managers who had taken time off for personal commitments.

With the memorandum dedicated to ensuring workplace laws were observed and equality for workers was achieved, Ms Szpunar was adamant her staff and others in the industry should not be denied penalty rates.

"Of course (staff should be awarded penalty rates), that's all good, they work nights," she said.

"We don't shut until 3am on Wednesday to Saturday and they should get that.

"Other people are out enjoying themselves and partying and they're working so no, I don't see any problem with that (penalty rates) at all."

Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell said the Fair Work Ombudsman and the hotels' association would work together to assist employers and employees.

"The agreement between the Fair Work Ombudsman and the AHA will assist the two parties to work together to promote and achieve workplace compliance, ensuring a level playing field for employers and helping to ensure that employees in the hospitality sector receive their full lawful entitlements," Mr Campbell said.

Ms Szpunar, who has been managing the Young Australian Hotel since April last year, said the key to staff contentment was simple.

"We treat our staff how we would like to be treated, as if we were staff, because we've both been in the industry for a fair while and we like to treat them how we would like to be treated," she said.

Bar attendant Sharna Nash said the relaxed atmosphere at the Young Aus made working there a pleasure.

"They (managers) do not intimidate you which is good because it's so easy to work around them," she said.

Topics:  gladstone gladstone business hospitality pub workplace

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