Bad news for retail and hospo workers: Sunday penalty rates to be cut

February 23, 2017
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For all students who work Sundays in retail and hospo to afford living in such an exxy country, this bad news might affect you. This morning, the Fair Work Commission announced that Sunday penalty rates and public holiday penalty rates will be reduced for employees who work in retail, hospitality, fast food and pharmacy industries. After two years of debate on the controversial issue, the decision will come into effect on 1 July, 2017.

Why the changes?

According to Fair Work Commission president Iain Ross, the penalty rates did “not achieve the modern awards objective”. The FWC received over 6000 written submission from business owners who complained that the penalty rates had caused them to reduce trading hours and staff on Sundays.

But according to the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the changes mean that nearly half a million workers could stand to lose up to $6000 a year. The cuts, which stand to cut penalty rates by more than 20 per cent, will affect thousands of workers who are already paid the minimum wage.

Will the cuts affect you?

Wondering whether you’ll be affected by the cuts? The changes to your Sunday and public holiday pay rates will highly depend on the industry you work in and whether your status is part-time or casual. But chances are, unless you're a casual hospo worker who doesn't work public holidays, you'll be affected by the cuts.

...the changes mean that nearly half a million workers could stand to lose up to $6000 a year.

The cuts if you work in hospitality…

If you’ve had to go through the struggle of waking up to an early hospo shift on a Sunday morning, then that pain is about to get a whole lot worse. Full-time and part-time hospo workers who work in cafes, bars and restaurants will see their Sunday pay cut from 175 per cent to 150 per cent and public holiday rates cut from 250 per cent to 225 per cent.

If you’re a casual hospitality worker, the Sunday rate remains the same at 175 per cent, but the public holiday rate will drop from 275 per cent to 250 per cent.

The cuts if you work in fast food…

Slightly different from your other hospo comrades, the cuts for fast-food employees will see Sunday rates cut from 150 per cent to 125 per cent for part-timers and full-timers. If you’re a casual, your Sunday rates will drop from 200 per cent to 175 per cent. Seeing as last year the Fair Work Ombudsman revealed that almost half of fast-food employers were underpaying workers, the cuts are even worse news for fast-food workers.

The cuts if you work in retail…

Perhaps even worse off from these cuts will be part-time and full-time retail workers, who will see Sunday rates reduce from 200 per cent to 150 per cent. Casual rates will drop a little less, from 200 per cent to 175 per cent. Pharmacy workers have also been singled out as having cuts in line with retail employees.

Lauren Piggott

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