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Hoteliers applaud Sunday and holiday penalty rate cuts

February 28, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

In a move welcomed by Australian accommodation industry groups, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled that Sunday and public holiday penalty rates will be reduced for full-time and part-time workers in the hospitality, retail and fast-food industries.

The ruling is controversial, with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) saying almost half a million people, including some of Australia’s lowest-paid workers, will lose up to AUD 6000 a year. The Australian Hotels Association and the Accommodation Association of Australia both welcomed the FWC decision.

The FWC says the cuts will lead to increased services and trading hours on public holidays and Sundays. This is welcome news for employers in the tourism and hospitality industries, who say it will help create employment.

The Accommodation Association of Australia said the ruling on penalty rates represented “a sensible outcome and will have numerous benefits”.

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) said the FWC decision represented a first step towards a modern hospitality industry. AHA and Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) led the submissions to the FWC on behalf of the hotel sector.

TAA is chaired by Martin Ferguson, a former ACTU President and Federal Tourism Minister. Ferguson said the FWC decision should be respected.

“From the industry point of view we haven’t got everything we want. That is the nature of the Fair Work Commission.

“We respect their decision and we will try and make it work. For us the objective was to modernise the award, not to abolish penalty rates, but to make it relevant to the 21st century as a means of employing more Australians.”

The ALP opposes the ruling, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten saying Labor will fight the cuts “in parliament and in the courts”.

Shorten said Labor would use another hearing to try to stop the ruling being implemented – and if that didn’t work, a future Labor government would change the rules under which the Fair Work Commission operated.

Sunday pay rates for full-time and part-time hospitality workers will be cut from 175% of their standard wage to 150%.

In retail, Sunday wages will be reduced from 200% of the standard rate to 150% for full-time and part-time staff.

“The immediate implementation of the variations to Sunday penalty rates would inevitably cause some hardship to the employees affected, particularly those who work on Sundays,” Justice Ross conceded

“We have concluded that appropriate transitional arrangements are necessary to mitigate the hardship caused to employees who work on Sundays.

“We have not reached a concluded view as to the form of those arrangements.”

AHA chief executive Stephen Ferguson said the AHA still supported workers being remunerated extra for working on weekends and public holidays, though “society and work patterns have changed significantly in 50 years”.

“Today people expect to be able to shop, buy a meal or a drink at all hours of the day, while large numbers of workers actually prefer to work outside a ‘9 to 5’ weekday regime because it suits their lifestyle, studies or family circumstances.

“Over recent years too many businesses have closed or reduced employment on Sundays or Public Holidays because of the cost of penalty rates. That is bad for workers, bad for business and bad for the general public.”

The public holiday penalty cuts will take effect on 1 July 2017 and the Sunday rate cuts will take force at a time yet to be determined, but within a year.

If you wish to scrutinise the details, the full FWC summary is available for inspection here.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Fernandez says:

    Excellent so there will no longer be higher rates for hotel rooms on the weekend as against mid week then ????

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