Government forced to reconsider penalty rate reductions
Last week the Senate made the significant decision to reverse the Fair Work Commission’s ruling to reduce Sunday Penalty Rates, which had been announced just eight months ago.
This is a disturbing political interference in the decision of the independent Fair Work Commission and a major setback for retailers who had been preparing to adjust for the lower rates and increase staffing to maintain, or provide higher standards of service.
The Government is now being forced to debate its own Bill this week when the House of Representatives returns and if it successfully passes both Houses of Parliament, would reverse the Fair Work Commission’s decision.
That decision had been to progressively move weekend penalty rates down from 200 per cent to a standard 150 per cent for full-time or part time employees and 175 per cent for casuals. Public Holiday rates were also set to be adjusted down to a new standard rate of 225 per cent for full or part-time workers and 250 per cent for casuals.
If Fair Work’s earlier decision is reversed this will create considerable uncertainty in planning for businesses across the nation and will impact on employment costs.
Terry Mott, the CEO of ALSA said the association is currently involved in urgent discussions with stakeholders including other retail and business associations to communicate these concerns to Federal politicians.
“We also need retailers to help by making contact with your local Federal MP’s and Senators and inform them of the likely negative impact on employment opportunities of any decision to retain higher penalty rates and would be a major challenge to creating new jobs or extra hours for existing workers.
“I think it’s a heads up for the entire industry to be aware of this and to make your feelings known to your local politicians because this is going to have a big impact on employment costs going forward if the decision of the Fair Work Commission is reversed, because of all of the opportunistic things that are going on around the Senate and the house at the moment with the numbers down there.
“The decision by Fair Work Australia (the independent umpire), to adjust penalty rates to a standard weekend rate was made after months of deliberations, hearings and based on thousands of pages of evidence.
“The politicians will vote this week in the Parliament according to their views of public opinion. So it’s important that let them know your views on this issue.”