Penalty rate cut | Video

ON THE GROUND: Small Business Minister Michael McCormack joined Member for Parkes Mark Coulton on a tour of local businesses on Thursday. Photo: JENNIFER HOAR

ON THE GROUND: Small Business Minister Michael McCormack joined Member for Parkes Mark Coulton on a tour of local businesses on Thursday. Photo: JENNIFER HOAR

Retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy workers in Dubbo are set to have their Sunday rates slashed after a landmark ruling by the national workplace ombudsman.

The Fair Work Commission on Thursday announced the four sectors’ Sunday penalty rates would be reduced from existing levels, with most of the changes to take effect from July.

Visiting Dubbo on Thursday, federal Small Business Minister Michael McCormack said the drop could give small business owners more incentive to open on Sundays and result in more jobs and investment in regional communities.

But one Dubbo fast food worker has expressed concern for his colleagues ahead of the pay cut, which will see Sunday rates fall from 150 per cent to 125 per cent of the full hourly rate for full-time and part-time staff, or from 200 per cent to 175 per cent for casual staff.

For a level one full-time or part-time employee, it equates to $36.45 less in their pocket for a 7.5 hour shift.

“Yeah that’s fairly significant I think,” said the worker, who wished to remain anonymous.

“Personally it’s not a huge deal for me … but I know a couple of the people I work with are trying to get as many hours as they can because they might have a wife and two kids or want to start a family or buy a house.

“I can imagine it would upset a few people. But I can also see a lot of people just rolling with it because they … need as much money as they can get.”

Retail and pharmacy employees would be the hardest hit, with Sunday rates to drop from 200 per cent to 150 per cent  – or $72.91 less for a 7.5 hour shift – for full-time and part-time workers.

Casual staff rates will drop from 200 per cent to 175 per cent.

The hospitality rate will drop from 175 per cent to 150 per cent – $34.14 less for a 7.5 hour Sunday shift – while casual workers' pay will remain unchanged.

Mr McCormack said the new penalty rates would be comparable to Saturday rates, and could encourage growth in regional small businesses.

“We all know that small businesses … when they do get a bit more cash in their pocket they reinvest it into their business … they hire that young Australian,” he said.

“High penalty rates on a Sunday are a disincentive for some small businesses to operate.

“So if that then leads to some small businesses deciding ‘hey we’re going to open on a Sunday, we’re going to hire more people’ … that’s encouraging for the employment prospects for Australia.”

Hospitality and retail workers will also see holiday penalty rates cut from 250 per cent to 225 per cent.

NSW Nurses and Midwives Association acting general secretary Judith Kiejda said feared the decision would have a ripple effect and said “this is a genuine threat to our nurses and midwives, and aged care workers who rely on penalty rates for 20 per cent of their income.”

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