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Sunday Penalty Rates Are Getting Slashed After Federal Court Decision

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Sunday Penalty Rates Are Getting Slashed After Federal Court Decision

When you're working in retail or hospitality, one of the only reasons for electing to do a Sunday or public holiday shift is the extra money. Depending on where you work, the difference between working on a weekend to a weekday in terms of pay can be huge.

But employers have been blaming the extra cash for straining their businesses, arguing a smaller wage would allow them to hire more people or expand.

The Fair Work Commission made a ruling in February that Sunday and public holiday penalty rates weren't providing a 'fair and relevant safety net'. It put forward the case to cut between 25 to 50 percent of wages in the retail, pharmacy, fast food and hospitality industries.

Hospitality worker
Hospitality worker
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Credit: Creative Commons

But the court could only rule on how the Fair Work Commission came to that decision, rather than the decision itself. The unions tried to claim that the commission hadn't taken into account the living standards of the Australians that the ruling affected. But the Federal Court dismissed the arguments against the Fair Work Commission and upheld its decision.

United Voice, the union who represents hospitality works, said it was a 'new low point for workers in Australia'.

National Secretary Jo-anne Schofield added: "It shows that the laws in this country do not protect workers and are out of step with community values. Those laws have to change. We pursued this appeal against the penalty rate cuts, to stand up for hospitality workers and for all workers in this country.

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"We fear that employer groups will now continue to attempt to attack the weekend pay of workers in other industries."

Wetherspoons pub
Wetherspoons pub

Credit: PA

Melbourne hospitality worker John Keily has told Fairfax: "The courts had a chance to rectify a wrong. They didn't. In this age of wage growth stagnation, for hospitality workers who are the lowest paid in the country, to receive a cut to their penalty rates beggars belief.

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"The unfairness in Australia today is abysmal."

Labor leader Bill Shorten wrote on Twitter: "Disappointing decision in the Federal Court. It's clear the best way to protect penalty rates is to vote Labor."

Despite employers arguing that it will help the business in the long term, workers who used to rely on the extra cash might now have to get a second job in another industry to help balance the loss.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: World News, Retail, Australian News, politics

Stewart Perrie
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