Online advertisements are offering hospitality workers across Australia sign-on bonuses of up to $ 1000, sparking concerns a labour shortage could mean a price hike in food and drinks for the sector.
Despite the ravaging pandemic and recession, restaurants, pubs and cafe owners can’t find workers.
In one example from Western Australia, the Victoria Park Hotel put out a job ad seeking qualified chefs and offered a $ 1000 sign-on bonus “upon commencement”.
“Candidates who apply for a position through this advertisement and are successful in gaining permanent employment with AVC between November 1 2020 and December 31 2020 will be eligible for a $ 1000 sign-on bonus upon commencement,” the ad says.
It also offered a $ 2000 retention bonus, “payable at three months employment”.
Victorian president of the Australian Hotels Association, David Canny, said the shortage could see venues try to recoup funds through how much they charge for their food and drinks.
“In desperate times, you do desperate things,” Mr Canny told The Age.
”Some operators will see overpaying as a way of survival, getting through, filling rosters and being able to give people time off.
“Venues wouldn’t be able to absorb that [cost] … you could see prices forced up, absolutely.”
Mr Canny called on the federal government to allow people on Jobseeker to work shifts in hospitality, without losing their payments.
“That would incentivise people to get off the couch and come do their 15 or 20 hours a week,” he said.
“It’s the top-up staff that no one can seem to find … which would normally be from that pool of international backpackers and students, but we don’t have any.”
Mr Canny said there was huge demand in hospitality, particularly in Melbourne as the public flocks to eateries after months of lockdown.
He said industry figures estimated the demand for hospitality staff could drive up some wages by as much as 20 per cent.
Matt Lanigan, owner of South Yarra cafe Lucky Penny, said it was “easily the hardest time to find staff” in the 23 years he has been in the hospitality industry.
“I can’t tell you how hard it‘s been to find staff – there’s a massive shortage,” he said.
“People who were professional hospitality workers are taking jobs as COVID concierges – even just for weekend work it has been hard, because the casual workers in the past are on jobkeeper from their previous work so they don’t need the extra money.
“Demand went from 10 people at a time to no limit within a month and everyone is booking at same time – demand for employees is far higher than how much supply is in the market right now.”