Slashing Sunday penalty rates will hurt everyday workers – Is it right? 336



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It all depends whether you are a small business owner or a weekend shift worker as to how you might have reacted to the news this week that the Productivity Commission wants to see the government slash Sunday penalty rates.  And we want to hear today what you think.

Small business owners hailed the idea which will allow them to consider longer and cheaper trading on Sundays in the industries that have been recommended for the changes, including hospitality, entertainment, retail, restaurants and cafes.  Workers on the other hand were appalled.  Chris Bowen, Shadow Treasurer was appalled  at the idea and spoke out about it.

“This is a policy which is bad for Australian families and Australian business,” Mr Bowen said.

“It will kill enterprise … Where is Joe Hockey? The job of the Treasurer is to promote good economic policy.”

News reports say the change of policy will largely affect younger generations the worst, those who work long hours and shifts waiting tables, pulling beers and serving behind counters. Dare they think about the older generations who will also be affected?

“Any cuts to penalty rates will be a body blow for young people across the country,” Mr Bandt said to AAP.

“With housing prices so high and wages growing so slowly, young people working in retail and hospitality depend on penalty rates to support themselves and make ends meet.”

Sundays  used to be a sacred day when nobody went to work.  People nstayed home, spent time with their families and went to Church.  This is why penalty rates were originally introduced.  But with the world changing to a 24 hour cycle, religion in decline and shop opening hours kicking in on 7 days per week everywhere, the penalty rates leave many employers complaining that their obligations to higher pay are no longer appropriate.  In fact many business owners choose to run their businesses themselves on Sunday, or for limited hours, with limited profitability just to meet their obligations to stay open.

And so we ask you today… Are Sundays still sacred in your world, and do you think they deserve penalty rates for workers in these industries?  Or is this recommendation  appropriate in your eyes, and necessary?




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. If these businesses can can afford to open of a weekend, they can afford to pay their staff, who are giving their time up with their families. Abbott wants to be very careful what he does, chants of “The workers united, shall be defeated ” and “Howard is a coward ” are still running through my head and it will happen again if These Liberals tamper with wages and conditions

  2. Having been a small business owner I know how difficult penalty rates are to cover , surely can have discussions around this area .

  3. Funny how the government workers still get penalty rates, divide and rule the oldest trick in the government book.

    2 REPLY
    • Absolutely agree, if penalty rates go they gave you go for everyone, police, nurses, fire fighters etc, let’s hear the stink then.

    • Marilyn I said this before it is all or nothing. They can’t discriminate. Hospitality and retail workers are just as deserving as Police and Nurses in receiving penalty rates

  4. Some people need the penalty rates to help pay rent!

    5 REPLY
    • Agree Denise da Silva seems Wendy Biden is a keyboard warrior and a know everything, in truth don’t think she lives in the real world on struggle street, like thousands of people do and live within there means .

    • Wendy I have read a few of your replies on this thread and either you are totally out of touch with the reality of the cost of living or you are a rich bitch trying to act superior to everyone else? Which is it?

  5. Try to manipulate workers pay Abbott and you will be out the door quicker than you can blink, these people never learn

  6. We own a small retail business and my husband and I work Sunday’s in order to avoid paying penalty rates. If penalty rates are dropped, we won’t be working the Sunday, which makes those hours available for someone else to earn to some money. It’s a 24/7 economy now days and most people do not use Sunday to worship.

    19 REPLY
    • Sunday is more than about going to church, many sporting events are held on Sunday and it is traditionally a family day, you and your husband are making the money out of your retail business and if you want to work its your choice, but if you want others to do the work for you while you rake in the them the correct rate

    • Who said anything about raking in profit? You obviously have had no experience of small family business. Of course it’s our choice to work and we happily choose to. I wasn’t complaining, just trying to point out that if there were no penalty rates, someone would pick up those hours and the pay. A Sunday to me is just like any other day of the week. My weekend is usually Monday, Tuesday and it doesn’t make any difference. And I have a family. We have just adjusted our family time over the years to work around this issue.

      1 REPLY
      • You still have a concept of a weekend, Monday and Tuesday. This is presumably because employing someone to cover you while you have a weekend is cheaper on Monday and Tuesday. If rates were uniform across the week then you, like all of us, would want to enjoy your weekend at the same time as everyone else. Removing penalty rates is saying that your weekend is more important than your employees. Abbott would agree.

    • In Europe most shops are ‘Closed on Sunday’ – even in major tourist capital cities like Paris.

    • For goodness sake Libby. We all know you hate the conservative parties. Every chance you get you have to bag them. I don’t vote for them but I don’t shove my political views down everyone’s throats

    • Diane, I don’t know what kind of retail business you’re in, but many restaurants, for example, simply put a surcharge on the bill on Sundays, and they are packed out the whole time. That’s a perfectly acceptable solution it seems to me. You can have your Sunday off, and pay your workers the legal fair rate of pay. Isn’t that win-win?

    • Wendy Biden seems your the one shoving your veiws here down everyone’s throat ,get yourself a life luvvy

    • It’s not an accepted practice in retail shops. Hospitality yes, but I think people would complain bitterly if they went to a shopping centre to do some normal shopping and got charged extra for the privilege of buying their fruit and veg or a t shirt or some vitamins. I don’t have a problem me working on a Sunday. I do have a problem paying someone a rather larger amount of money for exactly the same work they do on a Monday. And before some one jumps on and says don’t open, in a retail shopping centre you have no choice.

    • Christine Ryan. I am entitled to my own opinion the same as you are but I do not need someone political views shoved down my throat every time we are having a discussion.

    • It may not be a day of worship anymore for most people any more which is a shame but everyone needs a break from work and if you and your husband want to take Sunday off for leisure don’t you think it is a very selfish act to expect someone else to give up their leisure day to work for you without rewarding them and showing them that you are thankful for the time that you are able to spend with your husband.If you don’t like it shut your doors on Sundays and get a life.makes me so cranky when I hear small business owners whinging about the hours they have to work and that they don’t have a life.You should have done the maths before you bought it if you wanted to include leisure time into the equation and made sure you were going to be able to pay your staff properly for YOUR time off.

    • Well you have a point Diane Crisp, but nonetheless, Sunday is still a higher value day for most people than weekdays. Sunday workers give up things like days at the beach with their grandkids, or going to the footie with their friends. This isn’t yet a 24/7 economy, except in limited areas. Most workers get Sundays off and it’s a day to socialise and catch up with family and friends. I for one would never see my granddaughter if I worked Sundays, and double time is not nearly enough compensation for that. I think you should charge your customers a surcharge if you would otherwise make a loss. If everyone did it, there’d be some grizzling but people would pay up. If it’s just a case of smaller profits, I don’t think you have a legitimate case either way.

    • What about the nurses who have to work Sunday. They don’t have a choice as they get rostered on to work that day. What about the people who go into these shops try clothes on don’t buy anything and then go home and buy the same clothes online. I wonder how many of you goody two shoes do this?

    • Seriously, do some people actually read the crap they write, before they press ‘send’??!!! Namely Wendy Biden! Are you related to Obama’s right hand man Wendy? Maybe that explains it all. lololol

    • yes I blocked her a few months ago, a bit surprised to see she is mentioning me..shes lost the plot

    • Again, I wasn’t aware I was whinging, as I have no problem working on Sunday. We choose not to take it off for leisure. We have Monday and Tuesday for leisure and do have a life.Weekends are only an artificial creation. We have done the maths and choose to work the day ourselves. We are not selfish in working Sunday ourselves. We are not a charity. We do employ staff and pay them correctly. Our competition is 24/7 with no penalty rates disadvantage. You can shop online from the comfort of your own home anytime you like and day you like. Again I will try and make my point, if there were no Sunday penalty rates someone would have the benefit of working those hours and earning a wage. Something to think about the next time a grandchild can’t find a weekend job. And perhaps You could actually read my previous post. Retail centres actually dictate the hours your shop is open. A fact we are fully aware of and work with. So we do not have a choice to close.

    • Wendy Biden ,you are a bloody hypocrit your still having a go at anyone that’s not agreeing with your veiws after saying to me everyone is entitled to there veiws do you really know what your actually talking about ??

  7. Im sick and tired of hearing that business people cant pay penalty rates its always about screwing the worker, gov must just rack their brains on how much they can get away with 1rule for those bastards ripping off the public with their outrageous self indulgence and avarice who wants to work on sundays without penalties

    7 REPLY
    • This is all such garbage regarding additional wages – let any business come forward and tell us that their takings aren,t up on a weekend then maybe we would listen

    • Workers rarely if ever understand how business works! Including the expenses it takes to run one let alone wages…

      If you don’t want to work on weekends then work a job where you don’t need to! Simple really… Or you might start one of you’re own but seriously take my advice from a business owner and just work your guts out for your boss, you’ll be better off especially if you do it without whining!

    • Vicki Griffiths MANY have been on media recently saying takings don’t cover costs, they use family who don’t get paid to work .

    • Time magazine wrote: by the time employees get each year their 10 days paid public holiday, their 10 days sick leave, their 20 days holiday, their superannuation, their long service leave, their travel allowance…. An employee who works IF they WORKED 40 hrs a week the business would recoup 27 hrs return!

      Such it is with employees… And then the owner still must put up with crap attitudes like Vicki Griffiths

  8. Small business owners put everything on the line so should be allowed to make a decent wage. Everything is said about the casual workers, not about the owners who work hard , sometimes earning less than their workers plus working more hours

    7 REPLY
    • Business doesn’t open, workers don’t have a job at all – no pay doesn’t make sense.

    • if you can’t afford to open, go work for someone else but Australians deserve a decent living wage

    • The business owners needs to make a living, the worker needs to make a living. Let the consumer pay extra for the luxury of Sunday dinning and shopping.

    • I never met a small mom and dad business that paid the owners good wages.
      Talk to the ATO these small business owners only scrape a living according to their tax returns. Course many small business owners have a better than average home with better than average possessions.
      Fantastic the way that small business owners can have a brand new car every couple of years, large property, caravan, boat, etc etc.
      But must admit there are one or two that are genuinely struggling and should consider packing it in and working for someone else.

    • If the business can’t even pay the owner a fair income the solution is not to underpay workers, but to close the business.

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