Tuesday, 21 March 2017
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the decision of the Fair Work Commission, in relation to penalty rates in matter AM2014/305, will result in reductions to the take home pay of up to 700,000 workers employed in retail, hospitality and pharmacies, and
(ii) in its decision, the Fair Work Commission found that reductions in penalty rates will cause hardship to employees affected by the decision; and
(b) expresses its opposition to reductions in penalty rates that reduce the take home pay of Australian workers now and in the future.
The Fair Work Commission was set up by the Labor government in 2009. The commission was tasked by Labor to review awards every four years. As workplace relations minister in 2013, the Leader of the Opposition amended the Fair Work Act to specifically require the commission to consider penalty rates as part of that process. The government respects the expertise and independence of the Fair Work Commission. As the commission found, the decision will help small businesses open their doors, compete on a level playing field and create more jobs. Thousands of small businesses have been competing on an uneven playing field against big businesses, which have already negotiated enterprise agreements with unions that mean they already avoid high penalty rates on Sundays. For example, a family-owned takeaway shop must pay their staff $8 an hour more than McDonald's on a Sunday. As a union boss, the Leader of the Opposition was happy to make deals that cut penalty rates to low-paid workers.