Australia’s Sunday penalty rates will be slashed

Peter Terlato 23 February 2017

Cafe workers weekend tea coffee shop

Rate cuts for hospitality, fast-food and retail workers.

Thinking about picking up an extra Sunday shift for some extra cash? Think again. Australia's Fair Work Commission (FWC) has reduced Sunday penalty rates for hospitality, fast-food and retail workers.

The FWC delivered its highly anticipated decision on the future of weekend penalty rates in Melbourne, following months of extensive industry consultations, evidence submissions and political interference.

The changes bring Sunday penalty rates in line with Saturday rates, while public holiday rates for full-time and part-time employees will also be reduced from 250% to 225%. The rate for casuals will stay at 250%.

For both full-time and part-time hospitality workers, penalty rates will be slashed from 175% to 150%. However, there will be no changes to Sunday rates for casuals (175%).

Level one full-time and part-time award employees in the fast food industry will have Sunday penalty rates trimmed from 150% to 125%. For casuals, rates will fall from 175% to 150%. Sunday rates for level two and three employees on the same award will not change.

Retail workers, both full-time and part-time, will see Sunday rates slip from 200% to 150%, while casual workers' Sunday penalties will fall from 200% to 175%.

Under the pharmacy award, full-time and part-time employees working Sunday between 7am and 9pm will endure a rate cut from 200% to 150%. For casuals the rate will be reduced from 200% to 175%.

While the FWC acknowledged the changes would adversely affect some workers, the commission said the cuts would boost services and trade on public holidays and Sundays.

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said the decision could slash up to $6,000 a year off some workers' annual incomes and will potentially lead to "more hours" and "longer shifts".

Addressing low-income earning individuals, the commission said "transitional arrangements" were necessary to mitigate any hardships experienced but did not specify what these might be.

The commission also reviewed Saturday rates but decided against making any adjustments.

Prior to the announcement, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported wage growth in Australia remained stagnant during the December quarter 2016, up just 1.9% through the year.

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