Sunday and holiday penalty rates to be cut

Violet Powell
February 24, 2017

"You work casual because you have a lot of other things in your life", Mr Ottey said.

Ross said the changes would provide greater consistency to penalty rate settings in the hospitality and retail awards.

Mr Bannister said there would be benefits to employees if the penalty rate cut applied to cafe and hospitality workers because more businesses would be willing to extend their trading hours.

The commission appears to have taken its lead from a Productivity Commission report in 2015 that called for Sunday penalty rates to be cut and brought in line with Saturday rates.

This story first appeared in C&I Week.

"The Turnbull Government's position has been consistent and clear - the setting of penalty rates are a matter for the independent Fair Work Commission to determine, not Government".

The FWC announced its long-awaited decision this morning and thousands of retail, fast food and hospitality workers will now have their pay packets slashed. "At the end of the day, it's workers who ultimately bear the brunt of this issue", she said yesterday.

"We value our staff who give up their Sundays to serve you tasty food on your day off", said the owners of Bonta Vera café near Newcastle.

"The Fair Work Commission has finally got the fundamental principles right in recognising attitudes towards weekend and public holiday work have changed", said R&CA CEO John Hart.

However, Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said the decision would grow the sector.

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University of Canberra politics, worldwide relations and law student Jessica O'Neill, who supports herself with a casual hospitality job, said the cut could force her to pick up an extra shift that could prevent her from finishing course work.

The expert legal opinion will embolden a push by Labor and the Greens to try to prevent penalty rate cuts in future and to protect current workers from the commission's landmark decision on Thursday to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates in four awards.

The hospitality sector, despite evidently being hampered by having to pay its workers too much, has grown its employment by 11.4% since 2011, far outstripping the overall workforce, which grew by just 6.8%.

General Retail Industry Award 2010: for full-time and part-time employees from 200% to 150%, and for casual employees from 200% to 175%.

"We will continue to pay our staff under the existing terms and conditions for employees working on Sundays and public holidays".

Meanwhile, the minor parties are adopting different positions on what to do next in order to strengthen small business, while also delivering more hours to workers.

The proposal did not appear to have universal support among government ranks, with Nationals leader Brendon Grylls voicing concern about "attacks" on penalty rates.

"Likewise, if people spend more on a Sunday, we might see a reduction in spending on other days of the week", he said. "Coffees won't get any cheaper on Sundays but young people will find it harder to pay the rent", Mr Bandt said.

Australian Council of Trade Union president Ged Kearney said workers on minimum wages relied on weekend penalty rates to survive.

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