Study finds ‘deep cultural issues’ in hospitality industry


A University of Queensland professor is calling on industry leaders and business owners to address cultural issues in Australia’s hospitality industry after a recent study found high incidences of sexual harassment, d intimidation, wage theft and exploitation.

Nearly 400 hospitality employees were surveyed in late 2021 and early 2022 to determine whether their work experiences complied with the five Fairwork principles of contracts, compensation, working conditions, management and representation.

“The findings revealed deep cultural issues in the hospitality industry, with poor behaviors and practices that have become normalized and systemic,” said UQ Business School associate professor Richard Robinson.

“Over 60% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment, verbal and psychological bullying or racial abuse, while over 70% had witnessed these behaviors.”

While customers were the primary perpetrators, 42% of respondents said the abuse came from their managers or supervisors.

Wages and contracts were also highlighted as significant issues, with almost 20% of respondents not receiving a minimum wage rate or not knowing if they were paid fairly, and around 45% not receiving any right to overtime or penalty rate. More than 30% said they had never seen a contract or written terms for their current job.

With the current labor shortage, Dr Robinson said it was important to highlight these issues.

“With an unemployment rate of 3.4%, the demand for workers is high but the supply is low, allowing some hospitality workers to negotiate higher wages and better conditions,” he said. -he declares.

“But unless all industry leaders and business owners address these cultural issues, we will return to a power imbalance when labor market dynamics change.”

The same survey was administered to hospitality workers in New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, Norway and Greece and found consistent results. Dr Robinson said it indicated “systemic problems in hospitality around the world”.


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