The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has weighed in on the penalty rates issue at the Fair Work Australia hearing on Monday. It is calling for a reduction in penalty rates to help bolster jobs and work hours.
Specifically, the ACCI wants Sunday rates decreased to match Saturday rates, and current public holiday rates reduced closer to the current Sunday rate.
“We know from past surveys that reducing penalty rates means that retail and hospitality businesses are more willing to open longer hours and take on more staff,” says ACCI spokesperson, Patricia Forsythe.
“At present in many small businesses the proprietor works on days with high penalty rates because it is too costly to offer hours to staff.
According to Forsyth, the ACCI’s proposal reflects changing public attitudes in the move towards a 24/7 economy.
“Many people now treat Sundays similarly to Saturdays and are more willing to work on some public holidays. Our workplace awards should reflect this. Employers are not seeking to remove penalty rates entirely, but instead to ensure they meet community expectations and are set at a level that improves job opportunities.”
Forsythe points out the economic benefits of reducing penalty rates detailed in a report by the Productivity Commission last year, which highlighted the enhanced performance of affected sectors in New Zealand, where similar penalty rates are not in place.
“The Fair Work Commission has a chance to follow the recommendations of the Productivity Commission. We look forward to putting the case to it,” Forsythe concludes.