Sunday penalty rate cuts to be phased in over next few years
Hundreds of thousands of workers will see their Sunday pay reduced within weeks.
- In some cases full cut will not be implemented until 2020
- Any pay cut is devastating for families, ACTU says
- Labor and unions promise to ramp up fight against penalty rate cuts
The Fair Work Commission has ruled cuts to penalty rates for fast food, hospitality, retail and pharmacy employees will be phased in over the next few years.
In some cases, the full cut will not be implemented until 2020.
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Sally McManus said any pay cut was devastating for families.
“They’re looking at offsetting it in the first year and [if] you look at the cuts in the following years they’re much bigger, especially in some of the industries, which is a 15 per cent pay cut in the out years,” she said.
“I think no matter which way you dress it up, you’re facing pay cuts every single year.”
Unions, including the ACTU and United Voice, as well as Labor, lobbied the Fair Work Commission not to reduce Sunday penalty rates.
But the commission has rejected that proposition and instead outlined when the cuts will occur.
Workers in fast food or hospitality will have Sunday penalty rates reduced by 5 per cent this year, and 10 per cent in both 2018 and 2019.
That will bring the final rate down to 125 and 150 per cent respectively.
Retail or pharmacy sector workers will have their take-home Sunday pay cut by 5 per cent this year, but then it will reduce by a further 15 per cent every year until 2020.
Employers groups like the Australian Retailers Association argued for the reductions to be brought in over two years instead of four.
How much will you lose?
Which industry do you work in?
hospitality fast food retail
How are you employed?
full time part time casual
What is your regular hourly rate (exc. penalties)
How many hours do you work on a Sunday?
Labor, unions to ramp up fight
Executive director Russell Zimmerman believes the commission may have been trying to lessen the impact on workers.
“I understand what the commission was thinking in relation to that, but what I would make as an alternate statement [is] that had they made the decision to cut it to 175 as we requested, then you would have seen employees get an incredible large amount of extra work and that would have supported those people who essentially would have got a cut to their wages,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“I think it’s a disappointing decision.”
Senator Michaelia Cash said the decision showed the commission was making impartial decisions based on evidence.
“Nobody got exactly what they wanted. The unions wanted it set aside, employer groups wanted a speedier transition process. What this does now is give certainty,” Senator Cash said.
The Opposition’s employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said any cut was unacceptable.
Labor and the unions are promising to ramp up their fight, but Russell Zimmerman does not believe the Prime Minister will change his mind.
“One of the many things they would have taken into account would have been the amount of pressure put on by the unions in particular, and by other parties in relation to penalty rate reduction,” he said.
“However, the decision was made in February to reduce penalty rates, and having said that, we think it was the right decision and we believe it would do the industry good and it will just take a long way longer until it has any effect.”