The Fair Work Commission has announced reductions in Sunday and public holiday penalty rates in the retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries, meaning hundreds of thousands of Australian employees could lose up to $6000 a year.
Up to one million workers across those industries will have their penalty rates cut by 25 to 50 per cent after the FWC handed down its long-awaited decision on Thursday.
Retail industry – reduce Sunday penalty rates from 200% to 150% (for permanent staff) and 175% (for casuals).
Hospitality industry – reduce Sunday penalty rates from 175% to 150% (for permanent staff only). Sunday rates for casuals will remain at 175%.
Fast food industry – reduce Sunday penalty rates from 150% to 125% (for permanent staff) and 175% to 150% (for casual staff).
Pharmacy Industry – reduce Sunday rates for work between 7am and 9pm from 200% to 150% (fulltime and part-time), and 200% to 175% (f0r casual staff).
Public holiday rates have also been cut from 250% to 225% for fulltime and part-time hospitality, restaurant, retail, fast-food, and pharmacy workers. Casuals in those industries, except for restaurants, will have their public holiday rates cut from 275% to 250%.
Justice Iain Ross said the FWC made the call to cut Sunday and public holiday rates because they were not a “fair and relevant” safety net and agreed with employers that reducing rates might increase employment.
The FWC chose to cut Sunday rates but not as low as Saturday levels because “Sunday work has a higher level of disutility” for employees.
Justice Ross said evidence from business owners demonstrated that the present level of Sunday rates had led them to restrict trading hours, reduce staff levels and restrict the services provided.
The pay cuts take effect from July.