How penalty rate cuts affect women and therefore the economy

The Fair Work Commission has ruled to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates for full-time, part-time and casual workers in hospitality, retail and fast food.

Full-time and part-time workers will now earn 1.5 times their standard hourly rate and casual employees will receive 1.75 times their hourly salary.

The Fair Work Commission could prevent hardship from the cut in penalty rates by exempting current workers rather than phasing in the reductions over years, a labour law academic has said.

"I work every Sunday because I get paid more for it and we don't have to pay out extra on childcare as hubby can stay home with the kids", one mother told Financy.

"With wages growth at record lows and underemployment at record highs, there could not be a worse time to cut penalty rates", he said.

The rate has not been cut to the extent demanded by business and their lobbyists, who wanted Sunday and public holiday rates reduced to Saturday levels. "The government has no plans to change the way penalty rates are set", she said.

But the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association said all retail workers would be affected once new deals started flowing through the system.

Meanwhile the Pharmacy Guild, which lobbied to have penalty rates cut, says the decision is "reasonable, balanced and evidence-based".

Retail workers will take the biggest hit, while casual workers in hospitality will keep their existing penalty rates. Those working casual will drop from time-and-three-quarters to time-and-a-half.

Online, many were quick to criticise the decision and detail exactly how important penalty rates are to people on low incomes.

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"We have a real problem encouraging people to work, and this doesn't help - it doesn't encourage an incentive to work", Alan McDonald, managing director of law firm McDonald Murholme, told SmartCompany a year ago.

"If they cut penalty rates I will be SO angry", said one worker on Twitter.

Kiejda added that the decision had wound back decades of progression in workers' rights and threatened the livelihoods of those who need it most.

"Our hearts go out today to workers in retail, hospitality and fast food who will be doing the same work for less money".

'If there were more people working, they'll be able to serve customers like me more efficiently'.

The ARA will work with the Fair Work Commission to ensure this decision is implemented correctly across the board.

However the news was not totally welcomed, with the Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney saying: "The FWC decision to radically cut Sunday and public holiday pay will give nearly one million Australian workers a huge pay cut".

"The hospitality and accommodation sector is seen as an industry with tremendous potential to deliver results and jobs for the Australian economy".

Unions ACT secretary Alex White said when the Grand Final played on Tuesdays and parliament sat on Sundays, Australia would know the culture around weekends had changed.


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