For many people, Christmas is the time of year to be spent with friends and family, to take time away from work to relax and look forward to the beginning of a new year.
Often for people working in hospitality this version of Christmas is simply not a reality, with most workers in the sector facing more work days and longer shifts.
That’s why many workers are compensated by penalty rates, often paid time and a half or double time to work shifts many others wouldn’t choose to work, including late nights, weekends and public holidays.
Currently 1.5 million Australian workers across the country rely on penalty rates to make ends meet.
Wes, a chef at Crown Casino, said penalty rates were an incredibly important part of working Christmas for hospitality workers.
“Penalty rates help me with my bills and the general cost of everyday living,” he said.
“Over Christmas they become even more important because it helps me buy much nicer Christmas presents and food. Instead of just being able to buy generic food I can buy something much nicer.”
Wes says that if hospitality workers are willing to work undesirable shifts such as weekends and public holidays they should be compensated for it.
“I rely on my penalty rates to live as do many other people I work with,” he said.
Another United Voice member, who would prefer their name not to be used, said hospitality workers deserved penalty rates over the festive season.
“Why would I want to work Christmas and all the public holidays without being compensated for them?”
“If I wasn’t going to be paid penalty rates, and was instead only going to be a paid a flat rate for all my hours, I wouldn’t want to work and would much rather be at home.”
To find out more about penalty rates and how they effect Australian workers read our article “Penalty Rates Matter: Every Dollar Counts.”