Small businesses already struggling to stay afloat in a storm of rising costs have criticised the decision to increase the national minimum wage.
Glenn and Karen Pallister own a small sandwich shop in a Wagga arcade and say the 5.2 per cent increase to the minimum wage will force them to make some tough decisions.
They prefer to have at least two employees on deck at all times, but will likely be reducing hours for staff in order to keep the wage bill in check.
The pair said the wage hike is a frustrating addition to the seemingly endless list of financial pressures they have recently been hit with.
"We're already trying our hardest to absorb the rising cost of supermarket items, wholesale items, electricity and this will make it even harder," Mrs Pallister said.
In other news
The Fair Work Commission announced the decision to bump the national minimum wage to $21.38 on Wednesday.
The pay rise will affect more than 2.7 million workers and was designed to help low-paid workers manage the current inflation rate of 5.1 per cent.
It has been welcomed by charities and the federal government, but Mr Pallister argued businesses like his had been overlooked.
"It's wonderful to say 'all workers are going to get a pay rise' but the impact on the small business is enormous because someone has to pay for it," he said.
"There's going to be plenty of businesses that just say 'we can't do this'."
This sentiment was shared by Richard Moffatt, the co-owner of popular Wagga cafe Meccanico.
He said the COVID pandemic and subsequent restrictions had already ravaged the hospitality industry and the decision to increase the minimum wage unfairly punished business owners.
"It definitely does hurt," Mr Moffatt said. "It makes you think twice about hiring extra staff and that makes growing businesses a lot harder."
The cafe owner said he is not against giving low-paid workers a better wage, however, the responsibility should not fall entirely on small businesses.
"The whole argument behind increasing the minimum wage is the current cost of living pressures ... but they're a result of bad government policy not small businesses," Mr Moffatt said.
If the government want to introduce policies like this they should look at providing tax incentives or tax breaks for the businesses that have to bear the brunt, he said.
The new minimum wage mostly comes into effect from July 1, however the aviation, tourism and hospitality sectors have been given until October 1 to implement the change.
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