Today’s decision by the Fair Work Commission to apply an extended phasing in of penalty rates changes means it will take longer for the benefits to flow to consumers, small business operators and people seeking more work opportunities, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said today.
Jenny Lambert, Director of Employment, Education and Training at the Australian Chamber, said:
“The sooner penalty rates are reduced the sooner the community will experience the benefits, and today’s decision extends that for up to four years.
“When penalty rates are too high, they make it impossible for small businesses to open their doors and if the doors are not open on a Sunday, nobody gets penalty rates.”
Alana Matheson, Deputy Director of Workplace Relations at the Australian Chamber, said:
“The decision impacts on the 220,000 people on the relevant awards who work on Sundays.
“There is a misconception in the community that Sundays will no longer attract any penalty at all. As this decision demonstrates, even once the change is fully implemented, Sundays will still be paid higher than any other day of the week in most awards.
“For example, from July 1, 2017, a Retail Employee Level 1 will be paid at least $37.91 per hour, or over $300 a day on a Sunday – nearly $150 more than they are currently paid on a weekday.
“Delaying the changes means that additional shifts won’t be available for several years in some cases– which won’t help the 740,000 people who are currently unemployed, almost 280,000 of them young people.
“More young people than need be will miss out, with fewer new jobs available across the retail, hospitality and pharmacy sectors as a result of this delay.
“The Full Bench also reaffirmed that the benefits of a reduction were not limited to the employment effects and that a reduction in penalty rates is likely to lead to increased trading hours, a reduction in the hours worked by business owners, an increase in the level and range of services offered and an increase in overall hours worked.
“While the phasing in of the changes means we won’t see the benefits as soon as we had hoped, we accept the Fair Work Commission’s decision. We encourage the unions to do the same and abandon their foreshadowed appeal, which will only serve to further delay and confuse the situation on penalty rates.”