There have been a number of incidents around Sydney where customers have taken to social media to complain about restaurants adding 10% or more to their bill, just because they are shopping on a weekend or public holiday. Questions were being raised about the legality of adding a surcharge on the weekends and the answer is that it is completely legal, so long as the customer is aware, to raise prices due to it being a weekend or holiday, and there is no limit as to what this extra cost can be. The surcharge must be prominently displayed on the menu and must be no smaller than the smallest text on the menu.
The main reason for restaurants charging extra on such days is because employees typically get paid more on the weekend, with the average rate in Australia being 150% (time and a half) on Saturdays and 200% (double time) on Sundays, and a rate of 275% (double time and three quarters) on public holidays. Restaurants may need to make this money back by increasing their prices for the days those employees are getting paid more.
The Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission says that the one rule for when business want to charge a surplus on weekends or holidays, is that they can’t hide the surcharges on the menu. “Restaurants, cafes and bistros that charge a surcharge on certain days do not need to provide you a separate menu or price list or have a separate price column with the surcharge included,” says the ACCC “However, the menu must include the words ‘a surcharge of [percentage] applies on [the specified day or days]’ and these words must be displayed at least as prominently as the most prominent price on the menu.”
If you or someone you know wish to discuss this issue further, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8999 9809.