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Monday, 21 May 2018
Page: 3832

Penalty Rates

This letter is in response to your letter of 6 February 2018 concerning petition PN0213 regarding penalty rates.

The Australian Government's position on penalty rates has always been clear—setting pay and conditions of awards is the job of the independent Fair Work Commission. This is core business for the Commission.

In making its decision to reduce penalty rates for some workers in the hospitality and retail sectors, the Commission considered evidence over a two-year period. The Commission received almost 6,000 submissions, heard evidence from 143 witnesses and held 39 days of hearings. in a unanimous judgement, a five member Full Federal Court found that the Commission had properly exercised its jurisdiction in the penalty rates case.

As you note, many large businesses already pay lower rates on Sundays. This is because of enterprise agreements negotiated with unions. For example, the SDA National (Union for Workers in Retail) and the Australian Workers' Union have negotiated agreements with Coles, Woolworths, Big W, KFC and McDonalds that traded away Sunday penalty rates for their members.

The decision of the Fair Work Commission helps level the playing field for small businesses on Sundays. The Commission found many family business owners currently work on Sundays unpaid, but would rather employ staff. Other businesses have indicated that adjusting penalty rates would enable them to open on Sundays, providing more work and extra services.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Small and Family Business, The Workplace and Deregulation, The Hon Craig Laundy MP