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Public holidays are intended as days of rest, but for those in the hospitality industry they're actually the most stressful on the calendar - no rest for the wicked, hey? With the debate circulating around scrapping penalty rates, we look at the real cost of Public holidays.

The hospitality industry has the highest percentage of casual employees of any industry sector, with 64.6 percent of employees having no paid leave entitlements, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The penalty for employing a casual on a Public holiday is 275 percent under the Hospitality Industry (General) Award. To put this in perspective, a trade qualified chef, working on a Public holiday under that award is entitled to $54.01 per hour - as a minimum. A general waiter is banking $49.56 an hour. Penalty rates as they sit currently, are either causing businesses to engage less employees than optimal, or preventing them from opening at all. This has negative effects on employers, employees and consumers.

Now, those in their 9-5 jobs or small business owners that are struggling to pay penalty rates argue that penalties should not exist; but there are many who believe that if they are giving up time away from family and friends to serve the Public and forfeit a day off, that they deserve to be compensated for it. As the cost of labour increases, so too must the cost to consumers; this explains the often exorbitant, yet necessary increase in surcharging on such days - if we have to be open, we need to pay our staff wages somehow!

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