Casuals in the retail sector will receive a 25 per cent increase to their Saturday penalty rates phased in over the next three years, increasing the pay from 135 per cent to 150 per cent. The Fair Work Commission decision will also increase weekday rates for work after 6pm.
A full bench headed by president Iain Ross defended their decision, saying current casual rates for weekday evenings and Saturday work “lack logic and merit”. It accepted evidence the increase would only result in a ‘small’ drop in casual employment “which would not have a significant impact” on the opportunities for young and disadvantaged job seekers to get a job.
Industry associations have been quick to denounce the decision made by the full bench.
The Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman slammed the union’s response as “two-faced”.
He said it was hypocritical of the union and the Labor Party to seek to overturn full bench decisions they didn’t like such as the decrease in Sunday penalty rates but back the commission on decisions they agreed with.
Mr Zimmerman warned the impact of the gradual hike would be felt as soon as it took effect in November as retailers considered whether they could afford the previous levels of casual staffing over the holiday period.
“Retailers have two options — either try and cut staff or increase prices,” he said.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry QLD’s Head of Industry Dan Petrie said the decision is anti-business at best and economic vandalism at worst.
“Who comes up with these ideas? Seriously you have the bulk of small businesses lucky to earn $50,000 a year while the labour movement advocate for proposals which will only reduce the amount of work available for young people,” Mr Petrie said.