Penalty rates decision

“The Fair Work Commission has taken a step in the right direction towards modernising penalty rates to better reflect our 24/7 existence,” Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said following today’s decision on penalty rates.

“The common-sense changes announced by Commission President Iain Ross, who was appointed by Bill Shorten as Minister for Employment in 2012, have the potential to create new jobs and boost economic growth while indicating there will be transitional arrangements for workers.

“In the independent umpire’s own words:

The evidence also supports the proposition that a lower Sunday penalty rate would increase service levels with a consequent increase in employment (in terms of hours worked by existing employees or the engagement of new employees).

In particular, a reduction in Sunday penalty rates is likely to lead to: more stores being open on Sundays, increased Sunday trading hours, a reduction in hours by some owner operators, an increase in overall hours worked in retail stores’.

“We support the principle that people working casually, overtime, unusual shifts or unsociable hours should be paid a premium. This decision recognises that the community’s view about what constitutes unsociable hours has shifted in the decades since penalty rates were first introduced.

“It is essential that penalty rates continue to be set independently by the Commission, free of political interference.

“The onus is now on employers to demonstrate that modest reductions of this kind can mean more hours for workers and better service for customers.”