How will cuts to penalty rates affect you?

Posted February 25, 2017

On Thursday, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) confirmed its decision to reduce Sunday penalty rates from double time (200%) to time and a half (150%) for retail and hospitality workers.

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said it was a "bad day for working Australians" who 'won't be able to survive on a 25 or 30 per cent pay cut'.

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

Griffith University professor of employment relations David Peetz told The New Daily that when he visited New Zealand a few months ago, a country with no penalty rates, he observed that the younger and less experienced were attracted to Sunday work.

"We are on the way to seeing a whole class of working poor in this country..."

Now, many of those affected by the upcoming changes have been left scratching their heads as to how they will make ends meet come July.

"Mr Bannister, who> a href="http://www.afr.com/brand/chanticleer/aussie-entrepreneurs-fighting-powerful-hidden-forces-20170113-gtr52r" title=" *already spent nearly a year to get a development application approved for his first cafe in Pyrmont, said the business will absorb the extra cost of Sunday penalty rates because he does not want to pass on the cost to customers.

The proposal did not appear to have universal support among government ranks, with Nationals leader Brendon Grylls voicing concern about "attacks" on penalty rates.

Largely, those hours will be taken on by existing employees, but we can expect the change to pull many unemployed folk into the workforce as well.

The Fair Work Commission acknowledged that a substantial proportion of employees affected are low paid.

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"I work weekends and study through the week", says Elias, who has worked in a Sydney bookstore for four years (he declined to give his last name).

Retail workers face a reduction from 200 per cent to 150 per cent.

For example, full-time and part-time retail workers will see their Sunday penalty rate fall from 200% of the standard rate to 150% of the standard rate.

"It will enable those businesses to now consider offering better levels of service for their customer base on Sundays - rather than being encouraged to operate on skeleton staffing levels to save costs".

A recent report by the McKell institute examining the financial impact of reduced penalty rates concluded it create a "substantial decline in regional and rural economies".

'I'm not happy about it, working on the weekend is lot worse than during the week, ' she said of the Fair Work decision.

Public holiday rates will be reduced from 1 July 2017 in the Hospitality Award, Restaurant Award, Clubs Award, Retail Award, Fast Food Award, and the Pharmacy Award.

Kiejda added that the decision had wound back decades of progression in workers' rights and threatened the livelihoods of those who need it most.

"People whose pay is going to be cut ... will simply have to work more hours to make up that take-home pay".