Penalty rates and working on Sundays is something many of us have come to take for granted during our working lives.
But it appears that is all about to change.
The Fair Work Commission has made a ruling about Sunday and public holiday penalty rates, and it’s set to affect hundreds of thousands of Australian workers.
If you still work in retail, hospitality or the pharmacy industry, or your children or grandchildren do, then things are about to change for them.
On a public holiday, full-time and part-time workers will have their penalty rate reduced from double-time-and-a-half, to double-time-and-a-quarter. Casuals will still receive double-time-and-a-half.
Full-time and part-time hospitality workers will have their Sunday penalty rate slashed from time-and-three-quarters to time-and-a-half, while casuals will keep their penalty rate.
Fast food workers, rated as a level one, will see their penalty rate drop from time-and-a-half to time-and-a-quarter if they’re full-time or part-time. Those working casual will drop from time-and-three-quarters to time-and-a-half.
For those working in retail, the Sunday penalty rate will drop from double-time to time-and-a-half for full-time and part-time workers. Casual retail workers will see their penalty rate on a Sunday drop from double-time to time-and-three-quarters.
Even those on a pharmacy award wage will lose some penalty rates, with full-time and part-time employees working on Sunday between 7am and 9pm seeing a drop in their penalty rate from double-time to time-and-a-half. Casuals working the same hours will see a penalty rate drop from double-time to time-and-three-quarters.
The decision has drawn anger from unions, and workers on social media, with many people concerned about how the cut in penalty rates will impact their wages.
It’s set to become a big issue politically, with many on the side of the Coalition Government supporting the decision – while Labor is fighting against them.
In making their decision, the Fair Work Commission noted there would be an affect on low-income workers and said “transitional arrangements” were needed to “mitigate the hardship” for workers impacted by the cuts.
“Many of these employees earn just enough to cover weekly living expenses. Saving money is difficult and unexpected expenses produce considerable financial distress. The immediate implementation of the variations to Sunday penalty rates would inevitably cause some hardship to the employees affected, particularly those who work on Sundays,” the Fair Work Commission stated, according to the Huffington Post.
“We have concluded that appropriate transitional arrangements are necessary to mitigate the hardship caused to employees who work on Sundays. We have not reached a concluded view as to the form of those arrangements. We will seek submissions from interested parties about that issue.”
While the argument against cutting penalty rates focuses on income, the argument for cutting them has been focused on the cost to business and the “high” cost of keeping businesses open on Sundays.