In accordance with the Fair Work Commission’s timeline there is expectation that a decision concerning penalty rates will be forthcoming in early September.
There has been considerable debate around this topic with a clear push by employer groups for a sizable reduction in the Sunday and Public Holiday penalty rates which adversely affect the capacity of many SME’s to operate cost effectively, particularity those in the Hospitality and Retail industries. In the era of deregulated hours and 7 day trading most employer organisations see the current penalty rates as a throwback to an earlier time when the concept of 7 day trading was unheard of.
Reference has been made to a benchmark of a 25% ‘weekend’ loading – clearly employer groups have recognised that a retention of penalty rates should be maintained as an attraction to work on these days, such a position is viewed by many as increasing employment opportunities as it will significantly lower operating costs for employers. Having said this there has been an equally strong push back by Unions to preserve penalty rates as they are and calls for them to be legislated in order to preserve the entitlements.
Whilst the decision cannot be predicted at this time there will be some degree of ‘fallout’ to be expected regardless of the decision, employers generally will be hopeful of a change that is more reflective of current practice and demand for services, we wait with anticipation as to the outcome.