After two years of decision making, the Fair Work Commission has slashed penalty rates for workers in the hospitality, retail and fast food industries.
- Public holiday penalty rate for full-time and part-time employees will be reduced from 250 to 225%. The rate for casuals will be 250%
- In the hospitality award, penalty rates for full-time and part-time employees will be reduced from 175 to 150%. There will be no change to the Sunday rate for casuals which will remain at 175%
- In the fast food award, the Sunday penalty rate will be reduced for level one employees from 150 to 125% for full-time and part-time employees and from 175 to 150% for casuals. There will be no change to Sunday penalty rates for level two and three employees in that award
- In the retail award, the Sunday penalty rate for full-time and part-time employees will be reduced from 200 to 150%. The Sunday rate for casuals will be reduced from 200 to 175%
- In the pharmacy award, the rate for full-time and part-time employees for work between 7:00am and 9:00pm will be reduced from 200 to 150%. The Sunday rate for casuals will be reduced from 200 to 175%
Fair Work Commission president Iain Ross says the commission was given evidence from business owners confirming that the penalty rates were a reason many businesses stayed closed on a Sunday.
"The evidence also supports the proposition that a reduction in penalty rates is likely to lead to increased trading hours, an increase in the level and range of services offered on Sundays and public holidays and an increase in overall hours worked,"
Mr Ross said the changes, which are set to come into play on July 1, would mean greater consistency.
Ross says Saturday rates were examined, too, but the commission's decided against any changes.
"Generally speaking, 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."
Ged Kearney from the ACTU says almost a million Aussie families will be affected. She says, for many, it's a difference of $6,000 a year.
"Imagine what that means for somebody when they have to pay car registration, when they have to pay rent, when they're trying like crazy to get a mortgage. That is unrealistic"
"We are talking about people who do not earn a fortune. The retail industry made a very healthy operating profit last year, they can afford to pay people decently."
The Fair Work Commission claims there will, in fact, be some positive effects from the changes -
"[It] is likely to lead to increased trading hours, an increase in the level and range of services offered on Sundays and public holidays and an increase in overall hours worked,"
Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman agrees -
"Reducing these rates from double time to time and a half, will increase retail growth nationally and reduce the unemployment rate in Australia,"
They're claims Kearney rejects, labelling them "complete furphy".
"People whose pay is going to be cut ... will simply have to work more hours to make up that take-home pay."
Campaigners at Save Our Weekend have been quick to react, launching a petition:
No surprises the reaction from workers has been big on social media -
Written by: Claire Sherwood @clairesherwood_