Have a pub for a day


A QUEENSTOWN pub boss is handing control to staff this Labour Day to try and avoid punishing public holiday rates.

Owner Barry Ellis is washing his hands of his Pig and Whistle Pub on October 26 – staff will take all the profit, but also have to pay all the costs, including their own wages, rent and power.

Ellis says staff will be self-employed for the day and he’s checked it complies with the law.

However, the Department of Labour will keep a close eye on the Pig plan to ensure no Holidays Act breaches.

Like many local operators, Ellis has closed on Labour Day in recent years because of punitive public holiday pay rates – time-and-a-half plus a day in lieu – at a quiet time for the resort.

“Instead I’ve offered staff the chance to take over, and they’ve jumped at it. They’ll set the pricing, the rosters and the menu.

“It should be good for employer/employee relations, and will improve staff knowledge of the business.”

Those comments are echoed by duty manager Daragh Cantwell, who’ll be boss for the day.

“It’s a good opportunity for the staff to learn how the business is run and the effort that goes into making a buck in this town.”

He intends to roster on at least seven staff, and promote a construction theme, in recognition of Labour Day.
He’ll also provide a breakfast menu by extending opening hours.

“It could very well be a risk but all we have to lose is a day’s pay.

“But we’ve looked at all the permutations – there’s a good chance we’ll do OK.”

DoL spokesman Colin Patterson: “In the situation suggested, it is unclear what the nature of the employment relationships would be, however, if such an arrangement was entered into then the Department would look closely at the situation to ensure the law was not being frustrated.”