Federal Court rules on challenge to penalty rates

by HRD11 Oct 2017
The cuts to penalty rates for Sunday and public holidays will stand after the Federal Court dismissed an appeal.

The United Voice and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) had challenged the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut penalty rate cuts in awards covering the hospitality and retail sector.

However, the Federal Court found the FWC met its legal obligations when it handed down its decision to cut penalty rates for full-time and part-time workers.

While the Federal Court acknowledged that low paid workers would be adversely impacted by this decision, there was no legal error that was identified to overturn the FWC decision.

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten tweeted that the decision was “disappointing”.

“Disappointing decision in the Federal Court. It's clear the best way to protect penalty rates is to vote Labor,” he said.

The SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer added that the decision did not undermine the union’s resolve to continue the fight to restore the take home pay of some of the lowest paid workers in Australia.

“We are disappointed that the Federal Court has not sided with the SDA and United Voice in our bid to overturn the Fair Work Commission decision to cut the pay of some of the country’s lowest paid workers,” said Dwyer.

Moreover, the ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said the onus is on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to reverse these cuts and protect working people’s pay.

“Australia needs a pay rise. Working people’s wages are flatlining and their work is becoming more insecure. The government has a responsibility to act,” said McManus.

“And it gets worse. These pay cuts will continue over the next four years, so thousands of families will continue to find it more difficult to just get by."

Meanwhile, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell welcomed the Federal Court’s judgment.

“Small business operators will be relieved at this decision, which levels the playing field in competition against big business,” said Carnell.

“Big business and unions have made deals in the past through enterprise agreements which traded penalty rates for union membership and higher base rates.

“People’s lifestyles and expectations have changed over the past 20 years. Fewer people go to church and many people want to work and shop on Sundays and public holidays.

“It’s a shame that unions are running a scare campaign against the penalty rates decision.”

 

COMMENTS

  • by Nick 11/10/2017 12:42:13 PM

    The main reason people are complaining about the penalty rates cut is psychological as any time something is taken away people feel they are losing something they are entitled to. People know the hours of work when entering an industry and need to realise that in order to improve financially they need to up skill.

    In Australia Uni is accessible to everyone with the very reasonable HECS payment system. Further people in salaried work, do plenty of unpaid overtime etc.

    Small businesses and individuals taking risks to build more business are the most hard done by when having to pay penalty rates. Why should we punish the people who are trying to better the economy when it is already hard enough starting a new business.

    I know if given the option in my office job I would work Sunday to Thursday if it meant I could be paid double time on the Sunday, but I never had the option.

    Great decision by the courts on this one. If the issue is low paid workers not earning enough to survive then it is clear the main issue is the universal minimum wage.

  • by Jackson 11/10/2017 3:39:40 PM

    If you were given the option to work Sunday to Thursday in your office job would you? If so please suggest it to your boss as I am sure he would like his office to be open longer, plus your customers would also appreciate being able to do business with you on Sundays.

    However please understand the whole picture and how some bosses are hard done by when having to pay penalty rates - take Christmas 2016, Christmas day was on a Sunday so the public holiday falls on the Tuesday (Boxing Day Monday). You and your team give up your Christmas day with family and friends to go and help build the bosses business and undertake your job, come Tuesday your boss decides he enjoyed his Christmas and Boxing day so much he will work Tuesday with some skeleton staff who also enjoyed the break and give you and your workmates who worked so hard on Christmas day some time off to enjoy the public holiday!

    So under these cuts to penalty rates or as has always happened in the past, the employee works for peanuts now on Christmas day and the Boss is so nice he gives you off the public holidays so you can spend time with your family or is it so he may save paying the penalty rates.

    I know the industry and have been in it for 15 Years, Up skilled? I have no idea I undertook a 4 year apprenticeship, hold 2 other certificate IV - Training and Assessment, Work Health and Safety plus numerous other courses along the way. Yet if i look at the paper today, the average head chef position advertised is $50,000 - $60,000 per year. I don't see many other "Trades" offering this amount of money for someone with at least 5 years experience generally more

    So maybe it is just a low paying industry that everybody takes for granted, but I'm sure if all the industry went on holidays for a week or two they would probably be missed....

  • by Jackson 11/10/2017 3:40:05 PM

    If you were given the option to work Sunday to Thursday in your office job would you? If so please suggest it to your boss as I am sure he would like his office to be open longer, plus your customers would also appreciate being able to do business with you on Sundays.

    However please understand the whole picture and how some bosses are hard done by when having to pay penalty rates - take Christmas 2016, Christmas day was on a Sunday so the public holiday falls on the Tuesday (Boxing Day Monday). You and your team give up your Christmas day with family and friends to go and help build the bosses business and undertake your job, come Tuesday your boss decides he enjoyed his Christmas and Boxing day so much he will work Tuesday with some skeleton staff who also enjoyed the break and give you and your workmates who worked so hard on Christmas day some time off to enjoy the public holiday!

    So under these cuts to penalty rates or as has always happened in the past, the employee works for peanuts now on Christmas day and the Boss is so nice he gives you off the public holidays so you can spend time with your family or is it so he may save paying the penalty rates.

    I know the industry and have been in it for 15 Years, Up skilled? I have no idea I undertook a 4 year apprenticeship, hold 2 other certificate IV - Training and Assessment, Work Health and Safety plus numerous other courses along the way. Yet if i look at the paper today, the average head chef position advertised is $50,000 - $60,000 per year. I don't see many other "Trades" offering this amount of money for someone with at least 5 years experience generally more

    So maybe it is just a low paying industry that everybody takes for granted, but I'm sure if all the industry went on holidays for a week or two they would probably be missed....

Most Read