Should we abolish some penalty rates for retail and hospitality workers? 238



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There’s a big debate bubbling up today around penalty rates and the Turnbull Government is doing its best to distance itself from it. The productivity commission has yesterday recommended the abolition of Sunday Penalty rates in the retail, hospitality and entertainment industries from double time to time and a half to match the Saturday rates.

But today we have to ask if this is the right move? Do you think penalty rates should be abolished in retail on Sundays now that Sunday has become just another day of the week  or should we maintain a sense of specialness around our Sabbath?

Sunday retail trading was only introduced in 1994 in most states, and many people here can remember back to when stores closed at midday on Saturday, and didn’t open again until Monday. But the demand on Sundays in this day and age is matching up with weekday demand, forcing retailers to commit to the longer hours and be impacted by penalty rates that cost them more than double in staffing.

These penalty rates are enjoyed by older workers and students alike for working non-standard days and through their Sunday which they still value highly as a family day. But those days appear limited as the commercial pressures mount up on business owners.

We want to hear your opinion today… Do you think penalty rates should be abolished in retail, hospitality and entertainment?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. The problem in my opinion is that the government workers all still expect to be paid overtime. It is the common herd that the government wants to be paid less. I was at a meeting in 1985 when the government wanted to sack a lot of workers and they pushed the
    rural fire brigades and the SES. Worked out real well for the government.

  2. Why should retail and hospitality workers be singled out to suffer cuts to their wages in the way of reduced or removed penalty rates it is discriminatory and unfair of the Gov’t and it’s Productivity Commission to target those who are already poorly paid

    3 REPLY
  3. If they can’t afford to pay them, then they should not open, people only work on weekends for the penalty rates and cutting them will not make them put on more staff, employers will just pocket the money instead of the employees

    20 REPLY
    • Go back to the Old way and close the Shops at lunch time Saturdays, no Sunday trading, close the Pub at 10pm no all night shopping, it was all there before and we all lived with it, the big Shops wanted it and now they do not want to Pay for it, Suck it!!!!

    • Their cries of non profitability really touch me and make me she’d tears of blood. But what I can’t understand is that if it is causing them such massive losses why the hell would they want to open. Oh that’s right I remember one of the poor business folk who just returned from an extended holiday in Europe told me it is their best trading day. Sorry, poor simple me is just a tad confused

    • They’ve been paying penalty rates for decades and they haven’t gone broke yet. Maybe they just want to increase their obscene profits

    • they resent paying penalty rates… fact some of them resent paying their staff at all…..I think the rot set in, in all occupations when we were all referred to as “human resources” instead of what we were//are…..employees….

    • It’s a wonder they have not recommended one of The 2 Presidents Of Australia’s idea, pay workers $2 a day, she’d probably pee her pants with excitement if that happened, she’d get even richer…

    • Gina Reinhart is probably already having an orgasm now Rob, thinking of how this will eventually apply to the mining is just greed

    • I think “they” are singling out those in retail /hospitality to see if they can get away with….if they do not get too much of a reaction, then they will move into other industries…..if the move was across the board to begin with, then too many….the old divide and conquer…however do not expect much on this till after the election….just would like everyone to remember Work Choices

    • Shopping malls demand the retailers open whenever the mall is open. Some smaller retailers would love to close weekends but if they are in a mall they can’t

    • Chris Gander they put themselves in that position, no one forced them to lease the stores, they should have read the contract Before they signed, there are plenty of empty shops in suburban shopping strips right around the country they could lease

    • It’s the small retailers that suffer the pay rates, not the big ones. I think we would all be better off if the shops had to close one day a week. Also Rosalind these days a lot of suburban shopping strips have rules about opening hours. Quite honestly, when was the last time anyone considered Sunday a day of rest? To most people it’s just another shopping day.

    • Sue Walshaw Those people who give up their time with their families might argue with you about that, these are low paid workers, they use this money to provide for their families. Thousands of Aussie kids grow up with having a weekend with mum and dad and they should be compensated for that

    • It is this simple from what I can see, if you have children or grandchildren who need the penalty rates they earn on weekends..don’t vote Liberal, they are targeting the poorest in every area of Australian life

    • It’s only a difference of $5 an hour, and they don’t want to pay this, chatting to staff while waiting for your order, they all say Sunday is becoming the busiest day of the week.

    • Small retailers employ very limited staff, they mostly work themselves. If they can’t mke enough money they should close their business and go and work for someone else. I bet they’d want weekend penalty rates themselves then!

    • Things should stay the way they are we dont get pollies wages this is just another attack on the workers lets face it with out the workers there is no biz employers carnt have thier cake and eat it grrr call a election now

    • Many families have one full time and one part time worker who can earn a reasonable income by working weekends because of penalty rates. Also students supplement their incomes that way. If this is allowed to happen in the hospitality industry how long before it spreads to nursing and other essential services? What would be the point of weekend workers working if the penalty rates are reduced? How much hardship would it cause for families? I think this move would be a big mistake.

    • Artur Kuhn I could live quite happily with your suggestion. We might have to organise our time a bit better, but it could be done. Us oldies managed to do it back in the old days

    • Politicians wouldn’t have a clue,how difficult life is for the low one ever talks about the poor sods who work Sunday’s and how important that penalty payment is. Taking $100 off them could be the difference between. Just about surviving . Or really really struggling . It’s always on the liberal agenda to cut wages

  4. All this will benifit is greedy employers, who already underpay these low paid workers, I am waiting for them to try this on heavy industry, there will be massive walkouts and I think low paid workers will do the The sure can’t

  5. What bothers me the most is : go into any store : supermarket, furniture, hardware on any day to buy your need – there is nobody, I REPEAT NOBODY TO HELP except to take your money. The point I’m making is , ” this self serve” type of shopping forces people to need a whole extra day to buy their needs from seemingly skeleton staff, who know less than nothing – how many times have I been told “we don’t stock that item”, only to discover it in some hidden corner !

    1 REPLY
    • That is a whole different issue, that is greedy employers not wanting to pay staff, instead they have opted for automation, staff who give up their time in any job, should be payed, they don’t work for the love of it. They work to pay the bills

  6. Next we know the tax payer all outgoings for interfere with penalties or working.conditions. australians should.strike.on.weekends until.this.nonsense is stopped.
    If weekends are not important then why do.politicians fly home.for.weekends. greedy

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