LEGAL | Staff Reporter, Australia

Fair Work Commission cuts penalty rates for workers

The commission ruled that Sunday and public holiday penalty rates be reduced for foodservice workers.

Sunday pay rates for full-time and part-time hospitality workers will be cut from 175 per cent of their standard wage to 150 per cent. Some full-time and part-time fast food workers will have their rates cut from 150 per cent to 125 per cent.

Similarly, public holiday rates are also being cut for full-time and part-time employees from 250 per cent to 225 per cent.

"The appropriate level for regulated penalty rates for weekend work — particularly on Sundays in a number of discretionary consumer service industries — has become a highly contested and controversial issue," the commission said.

"The industries of greatest concern are hospitality, entertainment, retail, restaurants and cafes (HERRC). These are industries where consumer expectations of access to services has expanded over time so that the costs of penalty rates affect consumer amenity in ways they did not when penalty rates were first introduced. Such industries are also important sources of entry-level jobs for, among others, relatively unskilled casual employees and young people (particularly students) needing flexible working arrangements."

"The provision of discretionary, and therefore demand responsive, services on weekends is less frequent in most other industries, which is a key (but not only) rationale for a focus of concerns on the HERRC industries."

The Commission also recognised that the immediate implementation of the changes to Sunday penalty rates would cause "some hardship to the employees affected". The Full Bench concluded that appropriate transitional arrangements are necessary to mitigate the hardship caused to employees who work on Sundays.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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