Listen up, young Aussies: Sunday penalty rates have been cut

Posted February 25, 2017

In its decision on Thursday, the Fair Work Commission cut Sunday penalty rates for casual hospitality workers from 175 per cent to 150 per cent and for retail workers from 200 per cent to 150 per cent.

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'.

As the political storm over the penalty rate cut escalated on Friday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that, although low-paid workers were in line for a pay cut on Sundays, the inquiry had found it would boost employment and work hours.

In announcing today's decision, the commission said that cutting penalty rates would lead to "increased trading hours and an increase in the number of services offered" on Sundays and public holidays.

In the fast food industry, the rates will drop to 125% from 150%.

What the changed penalty rates actually mean for smaller operators in the long run is not clear at this stage, with the full bench of the Fair Work Commission yet to decide what transitional arrangements for the new rates will look like.

"We know with illegal payments and black economy that there is already a significant part of the economy that are not even getting penalty rates".

Sunday rates for full-time workers have been reduced from double-time to time-and-a-half, while for casual workers rates have been cut from double-time to time-and-three-quarters.

Unsafe things, independent umpires. Aussies who rely on penalty rates generally earn a relatively low wage.

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Some commentators have claimed that the ruling will have no impact on workers covered by enterprise agreements, rather than awards. That's no longer the world we live in.

Labor has so far supported the independent Fair Work Commission, making it unlikely it would join such a move, but Stewart said the opposition may be open to less radical changes like requiring the commission to grandfather the orders.

So one of the likely outcomes of the recent penalty rates decision is that the major retail chains will take a large chunk of that reduction in costs handed to them and put it into price or more specifically a price reduction to the customer.

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.

"For us, we open most public holidays and at the weekend and people appreciate it because they can get a cup of coffee on their days off".

"This is a cut Australian workers can not afford and do not deserve".

"I wouldn't work over time, weekends or afternoon shift if I didn't get paid more".

Cosmetics chain Lush has told its 580 Australian employees that it will keep paying them existing penalty rates on Sundays or public holidays. "This decision will assist business in creating viable Sunday opportunities which obviously flows through to additional hours for workers whilst assisting owners and Managers achieve better work life balance".