Media & Speeches

Four-Year Penalty Rates Transition Is Sensible

The Fair Work Commission has outlined a sensible transition for Sunday penalty rates that can create more jobs, more work hours and greater opportunity for Australian workers.

The Commission has taken considerable evidence into account when making these decisions. We simply cannot walk away from opportunities to create new jobs and for small businesses to grow.

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

With small and medium businesses losing 14,000 jobs last financial year and youth unemployment running at over 20 per cent in some regions, Australia needs every business possible to keep creating jobs. The clear, four-year path set out by the Commission to progressively adjust Sunday penalty rates should assist in this task.

We support the principle that people working casually, overtime, unusual shifts or unsociable hours should be paid a premium, but we must also recognise that the community’s view about what constitutes unsociable hours has shifted in recent decades.

It is important to remember that the Commission’s decision adjusts rather than abolishes penalty rates. In all cases except fast food, workers still earn a higher rate on Sunday than on Saturday – up to 175 per cent.

The onus is now on employers to demonstrate what modest reductions in penalty rates can deliver for workers.