SURF’S UP: Staff being absent

A local restaurant owner has enquired about what to do when staff are absent.


Kevin’s son Clint has just bought a 24/7 takeaway food bar. Kevin is upset because he is having to fill shifts himself at short notice when staff phone in saying they can’t make it to work. Kevin is also unhappy because two particular workers (Brothers aged 15 yrs and 17 yrs respectively) have specifically asked to become full-time, but when they are allocated highly-paid shifts, they don’t come in if the weather is good! Kevin asks what can be done?

Suggested answers:

Writer A:

Full time employment must be seen as a bonus and if offered, that needs to be understood by the staff. Clint needs to find staff who are committed to working the hours and supporting his business, and he needs to make his expectations clearer. Only staff who perform well as casuals should be offered full time jobs. Although the business is new he needs to have job descriptions and set legal standards regarding attendance. If necessary he may need to set a policy of a medical form as the only acceptable excuse for not coming to work to send a clear message on what he expects.

Writer B:

To me these guys seem dishonest, and I’d never offer them full-time employment. Although casuals get a 25% loading instead of holiday pay and sick leave, as an employer I’ve found it’s often worth the extra.

Writer C:

If a casual has a regular shift it’s a good idea to offer them the option of changing to permanent part-time. It’s a lower pay rate so that option is rarely taken, but by making a written offer you’ve covered your situation legally.

There are different laws and regulations when it comes to hiring children. In Queensland employment of children (those who are under 18) is governed by the Child Employment Act 2006 and the Child Employment Regulation 2006. I would recommend Clint to find out more about the laws or consult a professional in regards to the employment of children before continuing employment with the two brothers.

As the nature of his business is complex and volatile Clint should not offer full time employment unless he is satisfied with the work performance.

Writer D:

The employer can provide a ‘no-absence bonus’ in addition to the award. The allowance should be something like 7% of the wages, which is not too low and worth achieving.  It doesn’t apply to the absence caused by medical reason. So they can be encouraged for health management as well. Also they should have a company policy so they can explain rules and what they expect from their employees.


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