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Byron Shire
January 23, 2022

Dad’s army called to arms as hospitality staffing crisis worsens

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So dire has the shortage of hospitality staff in Northern NSW become, that the local chapter of the NSW business chamber is calling on retired workers to dust off their aprons and help out.

Drawing on data from their Quarterly Business Conditions Survey, the chamber (now known as Business NSW) says there is a staffing crisis across the state, particularly among regional hospitality businesses.

‘Northern Rivers accommodation and food services businesses are under a lot of pressure with 89.1 per cent of business leaders in this sector reporting a staffing crisis as their major concern for recovery’, said Jane Laverty, Regional Manager Business NSW Northern Rivers.

‘We need to think differently if we are to retain and rebuild one of our most significant economic drivers and one of the hardest hit sectors impacted by the Covid restrictions and lockdowns,’ Mrs Laverty said.

‘We’ve been calling out to young people to consider a summer job in local cafes and restaurants, we’ve done the call out to the ‘Mumforce’ who may be picking a career back up and now we are asking retirees to consider putting some of their time back in to work life to help us out of this crisis.

Business NSW has written to the Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg calling on the government to let age pension recipients earn more.

Currently, a pensioner can earn up to $300 of employment income a fortnight – or $7800 a year – without reducing their pension

The $300 is on top of the money they can earn each fortnight ($180 if single, or $320 if a couple) before affecting their Age Pension payments.

‘Increasing the limit would allow pensioners the opportunity to earn more money in this current climate and would help businesses who are struggling to find staff have access to a pool of potential workers and wonderful mentors for the younger staff coming through,’ Mrs Laverty said.

Business NSW is hoping the Government can make the change in the coming weeks via its Mid-Year Economic & Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO)

‘It is so important that we get this sector back on its feet and with a few outside of the box strategies I think we can do it.” Mrs Laverty said.

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  1. Great idea, however I’m not o so sure I like the reference of ‘Dad’s Army’ for retired workers. It seems to suggest that those in the ‘retirement’ age group may be unskilled and disorganized. We need to see the value of this demographic within our communities.

  2. Business community wants governer to create inducements for aged pensioners to return to work, so they can avoid having to set a precedent of having to pay working age people wages that allow them to meet ends

  3. Perhaps if some small business owners (often wilfully ignorant of workplace laws) didn’t underpay their workers and deny benefits by paying below minimum wage cash in hand, they may not have difficulty finding staff.
    My previous employer still messages me over a year after I left asking me to work cause they can’t find anyone. I feel like telling them the truth – no one wants to work for you cause you rip people off and your husband is a sleeze. But I don’t.

  4. A agree Shane – oh the irony! The combination for Byron Shire of totally inaccessible housing costs and the removal of a ready supply of exploitable backpackers has created a staffing crisis. Who’d a thunk it?

    The solution? – drag in the oldies when, traditionally in Byron Bay, anyone over 40 and not gorgeous has been greeted with sneering mirth when enquiring about almost any type of work – particularly hospitality and much retail. It’s hard to feel a lot of sympathy.

    I wouldn’t want to paint all employers this way though and I also understand how tough running a business is with the out-of-control commercial rents they face. We’ve often talked about the cars that ate Byron – it seems greed is doing it’s fair share as well.

  5. Maybe if the rents were not so high and the industry payed them the right award, there might be workers for hospitality.

  6. Look after workers instead of big business and people may want to work. Agree with all statements here, hospitality can truly suck should be called hostility sector.
    Crap pay, no breaks sleazy bosses you have to “put up with” snappy entitled customers with 10 variations on a latte, avo toast and eggs…urgh.. Govt have NEVER looked after minimum wage people, now you call in the oldies.
    When WILL we learn treat everyone well and ALL WILL want to pitch in.


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