July 24, 2017

Penalty rate cuts: exempting current workers could reduce hardship, expert says

24 February 2017, 12:52 | Ignacio Smith

Sunday penalty rates for full-time and part-time employees covered by the Hospitality Award will drop from 175% to "time and a half" (150%); however, Sunday penalty rates for causals in the hospitality sector will remain unchanged.

'Generally speaking, for many workers, Sunday work has a higher level of disutility than Saturday work, ' he said on Thursday.

Under the pharmacy award, full-time and part-time employees working Sunday between 7am and 9pm will endure a rate cut from 200% to 150%.

Casual hospitality workers will get a 250% loading on public holidays instead of the current 275%, while retail workers than now receive a 275% public holiday loading will also be brought down to 250%.

This is largely because of the flexibility it provides many working mothers, and the attractive penalty rates also allowed them to catch up on lost pay.

"The Commission's consideration of over 130 lay witnesses and more than 6,000 public submissions demonstrates that all parties have had their positions properly considered", Mr Ward said.

Penalty rates on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays were what made it all worthwhile, so that I could manage to save a bit for the year ahead at university.

Matt Harris, national campaign manager for Professional Pharmacists Australia, slammed the Pharmacy Guild following the decision, saying "the Guild had a choice".

"We are all waiting with keen interest for the Fair Work Commission's ruling", ACCI chief executive James Pearson said.

The politically inconvenient truth is that penalty rates are a hangover from a bygone era that costs tens of thousands of jobs and cripples businesses small and large.

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However, if the Fair Work Commission decides against bringing Sunday penalty rates in line with Saturday rates, the Federal Government will likely come under pressure from business groups to intervene.

If you still work in retail, hospitality or the pharmacy industry, or your children or grandchildren do, then things are about to change for them.

Now he wants to overturn the decision in government, and rewrite the Fair Work Act so that pay can not fall. No one is arguing that employers shouldn't pay more to attract workers to work on the weekend or at night.

However, he stopped short at proposing legislation that would guarantee no change to penalty rates.

As stated by the Productivity Commission, penalty rates "frustrate the ambitions of the unemployed" while handicapping businesses eager to capitalise on changing consumer preferences.

This is a bad day for working Australians.

The Fair Work Commission will deliver its ruling in Melbourne at 11am, which will affect levels of penalty rates now paid in several industries nationally.

"This cut in penalty rates is a cut in people's wages and it will hit young people especially hard..."

The Coalition campaign released a 30-second advertisement featuring a tradesman fuming about Labor leader Bill Shorten, who he said "wants to go to war" with the economy and "even someone like me who just wants to get an investment property".

Shadow employment minister Brendan O'Connor has told Sky News Labor will be calling on the parliament to remidy this decision.

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