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Review Must Address Industry Penalty Rates

March 8, 2014 Association No Comments Email Email

ATEC welcomes the Federal Government’s support for a thorough assessment of penalty rates which acknowledges the enormous negative impact they have on the viability of small business, particularly those in the tourism industry.
“ATEC continues to argue that penalty rates for the tourism industry are stifling its ability to fully realise its potential and are driving some businesses into the ground,” ATEC Managing Director, Peter Shelley said.

“There are serious pressures on Australia’s tourism industry and our ability to compete internationally when our businesses are constrained by a costly wage structure that fails to recognise tourism’s busiest times are public holidays, after hours and weekends.

Mr Shelley said the tourism industry was particularly disadvantaged by penalty rates as many of its 280,000 businesses are 24 hour a day, 7 day a week operations.

“Staff wages for these businesses are a huge part of their operational costs and they can be the thing that prevents a business opening on a weekend or public holiday,” Mr Shelley said.

“Other destinations in our region don’t face these wage pressures and, as a result, can offer a cheaper holiday destination which is highly competitive with the Australian tourism product.

“The Australian tourism industry employs half a million people and casual staff  are paid up to double-time-and-a-half on public holidays which can be more than $40 an hour, making the operation of many businesses on Sundays and public holidays unviable.

“Tourism businesses, particularly those in regional Australia, are mostly small to medium enterprises and they have extremely small profit margins.  Excessive wage costs have a real impact on their long term viability and their capacity to grow and create greater local economic benefit.

“Many people working in the tourism industry do so for the flexibility and non-traditional work hours and wage rates should recognise this choice while supporting businesses to provide this option without compromising their viability.

“We support the Federal Government’s call for the Fair Work Commission’s award system review to take a holistic approach which recognises the productivity of business as a major factor in Australia’s economic well being.”

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