How businesses want to cut Sunday penalty rates

Christine McGinn
(Australian Associated Press)




The Australian Industry Group:

* Wants Sunday penalty rates to be cut in a two-year staged-process starting on July 1

* Says the fast food award should have a 12.5 per cent reduction in both 2017 and 2018

* Says penalty rates are “neither fair nor relevant”

Australian Business Industrial’s NSW chamber:

* Wants full-time and part-time retail workers to have Sunday penalty rates cut from 200 per cent to 175 per cent in the first year

* Then go down to 150 per cent the following year

* Casual workers will drop to 175 per cent

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia:

* Says pharmacies would be able to open longer hours if penalty rates were cut

United Voice:

* Called for employees to be put first

* Cautioned the commission of the possibility that the penalty rates may be offset by the annual wage review, and believe it would not give the employee the full impact of the review.


Businesses want penalty rates to start being cut from July 1 and have told the Fair Work Commission Sunday workers are “overcompensated”.

The Australian Industry Group told the commission on Tuesday to start the process to cut the penalty rates immediately, saying they are “neither fair nor relevant”.

Barrister Harry Dixon, acting for the Ai Group and representing the fast food industry, urged the commission to start the cut on July 1.

“The commission should not entertain any further delay. The starting point is currently unfair, they are overcompensated,” Mr Dixon said at the hearing in Melbourne.

“Unions have focused on interests of employees only and not the interests of employers.”

The commission is taking submissions about the best way to move to lower Sunday penalty rates for the hospitality, retail, fast food and pharmacy sectors.

Mr Dixon originally called for the full cut to be delivered as soon as possible but the Ai Group later confirmed its official position was for a staged approach over the next two years.

Louis Izzo, representing Australian Business Industrial’s NSW chamber, also urged the commission for a staged approach to cutting retail workers’ Sunday penalty rates.

Mr Izzo said Sunday rates for full time and part time workers would drop from 200 per cent to 175 per cent this year, then to 150 per cent in 2018, while casual rates will remain at 175 per cent.

Sharlene Wellard, acting for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, said employers would be more likely to open longer hours if penalty rates were reduced.

The commission in February decided Sunday penalty rates should be cut for workers on modern awards in the hospitality, retail, fast food and pharmacy sectors.

But unions have foreshadowed a potential judicial review of the decision, which the commission heard could take some time.

Craig Dowling, acting for United Voice, cautioned the commission about businesses’ argument that the penalty rate cut would be offset by the annual wage review.

He said employees who got their rates cut would not get the full benefit of a wage rise.

The federal government told the commission in March it should make an independent decision on how to implement the cuts.

But the government said “take home pay orders” – which have been used in the past to minimise hardship in changes to modern awards – are “not available” in this case.


SOURCE: Fair Work Commission hearing

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