Penalty rate changes kick in this weekend

Changes to penalty rates are due to begin this Saturday, July 1, with some full-time and part-time workers due to have their Sunday rates slowly reduced over the next four years.

However, many Tumut workers in the relevant industries say they won’t be affected by the changes. Jess Dowell works regularly on a Sunday, in the Pie in the Sky and Born and Bread bakeries.

However, because she’s a casual, she’ll be spared having to deal with her wages being cut.

“We’ve already been told that it won’t affect us, because we’re all casuals,” she said.

“I think that’s the case for a lot of people in Tumut – even though some people work full-time hours, they’re still casuals, so they won’t be affected.”

Many businesses also choose to stay closed on a Sunday, or only open for minimal hours.

One of those businesses is Kat’s Whiskers, with manager Clara Packard choosing to stay closed for multiple reasons.

“This will mean I could open on a Sunday,” she said.

“When we first started Saturdays were pretty quiet, whereas now they’re our busiest day, so with this [legislation change] I probably would be able to afford to open on a Sunday as well – but I probably won’t anyway, to be honest. I need a life, I’ve got two young kids at home and they need me for at least one full day a week.”

The decision is the result of years of research on behalf of the Fair Work Commission, and the details are segregated by industry.

In hospitality casuals will be spared, with their Sunday rates staying at 175 per cent of their regular pay. However, full-time and part-time employees will see a reduction, from 175 per cent to 150 per cent.

Level one full-time and part-time fast food employees will be hit the hardest, with a Sunday penalty rate cut of 150 per cent to 125 per cent of their regular pay – barely an incentive for them to work on the traditional day off.

Level one casuals will have their Sunday rates cut from 175 to 150 per cent of their regular pay, and level two and three employees will not experience any changes.

For retail workers, full-time and part-time employees will feel a Sunday pay cut from 200 to 150 per cent of their regular rate, and from 200 to 175 per cent for casuals. In the pharmacy world, the rate for full-time and part-time employees for work between 7.00am and 9.00pm on Sundays will be reduced from 200 to 150 per cent, and the Sunday rate for casuals will be reduced from 200 to 175 per cent.

However, the cuts will be phased in gradually and not take full effect until 2019 and 2020, and it’s only the first penalty rate cut of five percentage points that will begin next month.