Home' HR Monthly : March 2015 Contents FEATURE: PENALTY RATES
"IN THE RUN-UP TO THE NEXT ELECTION,
THE GOVERNMENT WILL HAVE A
KEEN EYE ON HOW BUSINESS
IS BUTTING UP AGAINST THE
UNIONS ON THE ISSUE."
choosing to work unsocial hours.
More than half of those working unsocial hours
didn't receive any penalty rate payment at all. And of
the 46 per cent who did, more than a third said they
relied on the extra pay to cover household expenses.
"It appears that workers in the agriculture, forestry
and fishing industries, and in electricity, gas, water and
waste services, are more likely to have their household
finances affected by a removal of penalty rates for
working unsocial hours," says Dr Tom Daly, the
survey report's author.
While some people may choose to work unsocial
hours, it's far from a matter of choice for others, says
Clare Ozich, executive director of the Australian
Institute of Employment Rights. "Some people are
compelled by the labour market, particularly in big
workplaces where they don't have the same power
to refuse, or work unsocial hours because of their
economic circumstances," she says.
Daly says cutting penalty rates could have
dire consequences for the labour market, with
employees saying they would refuse to work unsocial
hours. In retail, 48 per cent say they would stop
working weekends and evenings. Construction and
manufacturing workers are the least likely to continue
working if penalty rates were removed.
38 HRIVI hrmonline.com.au
AHRI AND THE
AH RI will put in a
submission to the
Framework Inquiry being
conducted this year at the
AHRI member input was
requested last month
via a survey. The terms
of reference list a wide
range of matters touching
on workplace relations.
The submission will
be available for AH RI
members on the AH RI
website from mid-March
and also available
on the Productivity
ahri.com.auj subm issions
LOG IN TO THE
TO FIND DEFINITIONS
PENALTY RATES AND
ALLOWANCES. TH E SITE
ALSO HAS INFORMATION
SH EETS, CH ECKLISTS,
TEMPLATES ON A RANGE
OF TOPICAL HR ISSUES.
For more information
Profit and growth
With the ABS reporting in 2013 that 40 per cent
of Australians had some form of non-traditional
work pattern, it seems the 24/7 economy is already
upon us. This is key to the business argument that
weekends are no longer 'special' and therefore don't
constitute a sacrifice.
COSBOA's Strong says that the ideal scenario
for small businesses is one where penalty rates
become a maximum time and a half for any work
performed. "The complicated world of penalty rates
dependant on different hours and times worked
isn't sustainable. We need to be practical and
realistic," he says.
Two years ago Australia's major banks pushed
for a 'notional' weekend where employees could
be rostered to work any five days of the week. The
banks argued that, although they were in the same
position as telecommunications service providers
and retailers, they didn't have the flexibility to
roster employees for Saturdays and Sundays.
Employers in the retail, hospitality, food
and beverage, and hair and beauty industries
claim weekend work free of penalty rates would
have a positive impact on employment growth,
productivity and competitiveness.
"The ultimate goal is to have Sunday penalty
rates similar to those on Saturdays," Australian
Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Kate
Carnell told the ABC.
The ACTU rejects these arguments, claiming the
business lobby's motivations have nothing to do with
job creation and are all about boosting employer
profits. "Employers couldn't provide evidence to the
commission that more people were employed when
penalty rates were removed or reduced in New South
Wales, Victoria and South Australia in the past,"
says ACTU secretary Dave Oliver.
To date, the commission hasn't been convinced
either. It has noted that a large proportion of
employees receiving penalty rates are already on
low pay, with incomes of around 70 per cent of
Whether there's an appetite among the Australian
public to tackle the issue once more will be revealed
this year. ..
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