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ARA wants 2-stage penalty rate drop

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) supports a two-stage reduction in Sunday penalty rate reduction.

The ARA proposes the Sunday penalty rates reduction for permanent and casual employees be reduced to 175 percent from July 1 2017. The second stage of this transitional arrangement proposes Sunday penalty rates for permanent employees be reduced to 150 percent from July 1, 2018.

ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman, said phasing in these changes will assist retailers across the industry in creating more jobs, offering additional work hours and increasing levels of service to the community.

‘After speaking with our members and legal providers, we propose the Sunday penalty rate reduction be phased through a two-stage pay arrangement,’ he said.

‘Based on the evidence presented to the Commission during this industry-wide case, employees in the industry would experience no, or very marginal, negative impact, as a result of this phased approach.’ 

There has been recent speculation that individual employees facing penalty rate cuts could be granted the right to apply to the Fair Work Commission to preserve their current rates of take-home pay.

The FWC is seeking clarification from the Federal Government over whether employment laws allow for people to apply for a ‘Take Home Pay Order’ in the face of the penalty rate cuts.

An employee can already ask for the order if they believe the introduction of modern awards has led, or will lead, to a reduction in their take-home pay. It’s not yet clear whether the laws apply to the reduction in Sunday penalty rates.

If successful, an employee will have their take-home pay preserved while they remain in the same job.

Unsurprisingly, the ARA claims that it  ‘strongly believes Take Home Pay Orders will be an unsustainable process moving forward.’

‘Modern Awards needs to be simple, steady and easy to implement,’ Mr Zimmerman said.

‘Take Home Pay Orders will add an unnecessary level of administrative complexity to this transition which will be superfluous.

‘Implementing a two-stage transitional pay arrangement for the reduction in Sunday penalty rates will allow retailers to roster additional staff on a Sunday, and give more employment opportunities to young workers seeking both extra hours and new employment over the weekend,’ Mr Zimmerman said.

‘With 725,000 people out of work, including 259,000 young people, the ARA believes the reduced penalty rates will make it easier for employers to hire staff.’

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