Canberra's small business, casual employees on Fair Work Commission rate cuts

The shock ruling will see retail, hospitality and fast-food workers have their Sunday penalty rates cut reduced from 200 per cent to 150 for full and part-time retail workers, and dropped to 175 per cent for casuals.

"With a significant proportion of retail and hospitality workers under the age of 24, this latest decision to cut penalty rates is another example of how young Australians are being disproportionately affected by challenges in the workforce and the growing risk they face in an increasingly flexible workforce".

David Dorsett-Lynn from Dorsett Retail in Western Australia described the decision as a "very fair outcome" for the industry.

Unions are unsurprisingly upset by the ruling by the Fair Work Commission, who have campaigned hard to keep the rates unchanged.

"This is an attack on people who already struggle to survive and for whom penalty rates make an important difference from week to week", the society's National Council CEO, Dr John Falzon, said.

Full and part-time pharmacy worker wages will be cut on Sundays from double to 150 per cent, and casual workers will be paid 175 per cent instead of 200 per cent.

"They're saying the decision will increase opening hours on a Sunday but an increase in hours overall would rely on spending overall".

"We have had a penalty system created to keep stores and cafes closed on Sunday so we could all go to church but the world changed when retail gained the flexibility to open - and customers love it".

But this week's changes affect only Sunday and public holiday pay, and vary across industries.

If we can not avoid a prolonged economic downturn, as predicted by many analysts, our recovery would be far quicker if our parliament undertook much-needed reforms now rather than wait until further deteriorations forces a reactive response.




"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.

Peter Hammerman from 2nds World, with stores in both NSW and Victoria, has assured his staff who work Sundays or public holidays that they will be no worse off.

'Of course as a business owner it benefits you, but at the same time, you're one business owner, compared to 15 or 30 unhappy staff'.

There is no evidence to suggest that reducing minimum entitlements like penalty rates will lead to net employment growth.

Sunday rates for hospitality workers will fall from 175 per cent to 150 per cent while those for fast food workers will drop from 150 per cent to 125 per cent.

The decision to reduce these rates (in line with Saturday rates) in the hospitality award, recognises that weekends and particularly Sunday's have been for many years part of a "normal working week".

"I think the Industrial Relations Commission itself should manage these issues without the threat of legislation".

Known as penalty rates, it afforded employees higher wages - as much as 200% in some cases - on Sundays and public holidays.

"Why should they work one day a week and earn more than someone who works two days".

THOUSANDS of workers could have their pay packets slashed by double digits today if the officials decide to cut penalty rates.

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