Today We’ll Find Out Whether Weekend Penalty Rates Are Gonna Be Slashed

A long-awaited decision on penalty rates in Australia is coming today, with your average humble battler in retail and hospitality waiting to find out whether their Sunday rate will be slashed to be more in line with Saturday rates. The decision comes at 11am this morning.

The Fair Work Commission has been hearing evidence since 2015, with industry groups and some Liberal MPs supporting the cut – basically arguing that weekends are some kind of social construct and therefore shouldn’t be more highly compensated – and Labor and the unions defending the current system.
The Productivity Commission recommended that weekend penalty rates be set in line with the current Saturday rate. There has been a great deal of pushback on this, especially given that annual wage growth has been flat or falling since 2014.
Malcolm Turnbull has been careful to not situate the Coalition on either side of the debate, despite the fact several of his MPs have spoken out in favour of penalty rate cuts. He says the government will respect whatever decision the Fair Work Commission decide on.
Bill Shorten says Labor will change the law to ensure “sufficient compensation” for employees if Fair Work goes ahead and cuts the penalty rates. Speaking yesterday, Shorten slammed calls to cut rates:
“With wages growth at record lows and underemployment at record highs, there could not be a worse time to cut penalty rates.”
[Labor are] greatly concerned that if its hospitality workers who have their penalty rates cut today, it will be nurses and emergency workers tomorrow. Millions of Australian families rely on penalty rates to put food on the table – Labor will fight for these people and their penalty rates.

We’ll keep you posted on how this goes down. Let’s find out if the solution to global economic woes is ladling more punishment on low-income earners!

Source: AFR.
Photo: Key & Poole.