Fair Work decision good or bad?

Andrew Cummings
February 25, 2017

The Fair Work Commission has announced its decision to scrap Sunday penalty rates for retail, hospitality, fast food workers.

"Once Sunday penalty rates are cut to 150 per cent, no employer will then be willing to offer 200 per cent in a renegotiated EBA".

Hospitality workers face Sunday penalty rates cut but could the move create more jobs?

"For many workers, Sunday work has a higher level of disutility than Saturday work, though the extent of the disutility is much less than in times past".

Businesses have been lobbying for the changes since 2015, arguing that reducing penalty rates would lead to greater employment and longer trading hours.

Hospitality workers would see their Sunday and Public Holiday rates cut.

One Warrnambool cafe operator, who now does not trade on Sundays, says the penalty rates change may prompt him to become a seven-day a week operation.

The Fair Work Commission has spent two years weighing up whether to bring Sunday rates in line with Saturday pay for retail and hospitality workers.

Retail: In the retail award, Sunday rates for full and part time workers will decrease from 200% of the regular hourly rate to 150%.

The workers impacted by the Fair Work Commission ruling are among the lowest paid and most vulnerable in society and they deserve protection.

Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Bob Hawes said he respected "all manner of views" on penalty rates, but refuted "diabolical predictions".

The company noted that applying the cuts to penalty rates was a choice.

By contrast, under the FWC's proposed model, fast food chains, including donut shops, will have the benefit of a lower Sunday penalty rate at 125 per cent, down from 150 per cent.

"It's always cheaper to hire someone with no skills ... and, as we have seen elsewhere, the level of service comes down", Mr Wallace said.

What happened to penalty rates?

If they are going to take home less for a Sunday shift, it's only fair that they stand to take home more for working other days of the week.

'Just thought I'd let you know you have a new customer'.

According to the Australian Council of Trade Unions, more than a million Aussie workers could see their pay cut by $6,000, or 20%, as a result of this change.

"How realistic is it to ask the lowest paid workers to take a pay cut of up to $6000 a year", she said.

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

He added that: "our hearts especially go out to working women, who are the majority of the workforce in these industries - retail is the second largest employer of women nationally and of women aged under twenty-five".

It is open for employers and employees to negotiate a higher pay rate and I'm sure that many do.

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