Penalty rate decision will create WA jobs

23 February, 2017

Today’s sensible decision to adjust penalty rates will allow small businesses to create jobs and offer more hours for West Australian workers, says WA’s leading business advocate.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia (CCI) has welcomed today’s announcement from the Fair Work Commission, which has ruled that penalty rates on Sundays and Public Holidays in the retail and hospitality industries will be reduced.

The decision will have the greatest impact on retail businesses where the penalty rate for Sunday work will change from a 200 per cent penalty to 150 per cent for part-time and full-time workers, with the Public Holiday rate moving from 250 per cent to 225 per cent.

CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott said the changes will be particularly significant for WA’s tourism industry, especially in regional areas.

“Today’s sensible decision from the Fair Work Commission recognises Australia’s modern economy, where Sundays and Public Holidays are not what they once were,” Ms Willmott said.

“In Western Australia, where the jobless rate is the highest in the country and youth unemployment is 14.9 per cent – miles ahead of the national average of 13.5 per cent – today's decision will mean business owners in the retail and hospitality industries will now be able to open more hours and likely create more jobs, particularly part-time jobs.

“CCI has long called for a reduction in Sunday and Public Holiday penalty rates to allow small and medium sized businesses to open more hours and create more jobs for workers – our Members tell us that the exorbitant rates paid on these days stop them from opening their doors, because they simply cannot afford to pay grossly inflated wages. This is bad for workers who want more hours, bad for businesses who want to trade, bad for customers who want to spend their money and bad for the economy overall.

“This is particularly damaging in regional areas. We know West Australians love to head off for a long weekend away, but our regional Members tell us that they cannot afford to open doors when inflated rates apply – in a pub, the current award dictates rates for bar staff, glassies and kitchen hands that are upwards of $50 an hour, which means many business owners can’t afford to pay them and are forced to shut their doors on Sundays and Public Holidays or open with reduced staff, which is often when there are more customers in town seeking services.

“Clearly this is an unsustainable conflict that had to be resolved and business is pleased the Fair Work Commission’s decision recognises that the current rates were limiting hours offered and jobs created in the retail and hospitality sectors. 

“CCI believes that helping business work will help put West Australians back to work, and today’s decision is certainly a positive step in the right direction.”

Media contact: Kate Hodges – 0448 928 227