Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says retailers are probably feeling the heat over the unpopular decision to cut Sunday penalty rates, prompting them to suggest a phased-in reduction.
The Australian Retailers Association has proposed the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut Sunday penalty rates should be implemented in two stages, allowing employers the benefit of the reduction and job opportunities in a “reasonable manner”.
Last month the commission determined the Sunday penalty rate for full-time and part-time employees should be reduced from 200 to 150 per cent and for casuals to 175 per cent.
Labor, the Greens and Unions are fighting the decision.
The commission has yet to specify how it should be implemented.
The retailers’ lobby group proposes the Sunday penalty rates reduction for permanent and casual employees be reduced to 175 per cent from 200 per cent from July, and then to 150 per cent rates for permanent employees from July next year.
“Implementing a two-stage transitional pay arrangement for the reduction in Sunday penalty rates will allow retailers to roster additional staff on a Sunday, and give more employment opportunities to young workers seeking both extra hours and new employment over the weekend,” the association’s chief Russell Zimmerman said in a statement on Wednesday.
Asked by a reporter if retailers are feeling the bite of the penalty rate decision, Mr Shorten responded “probably”.
“The fact of the matter is just simply cutting people’s pay is a bad idea,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
He said wages growth is the lowest in 25 years and families are already finding it hard to make ends meet.