FWC president proposes changes to current penalty rate system

The president of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) believes a single higher ‘loaded’ hourly rate of pay in lieu of weekend penalty rates would simplify the current system for small businesses and allow for more flexibility.

Speaking at the AFR Retail Summit in Melbourne last week, FWC president, Iain Ross, suggested a loaded rates schedule, whereby employees receive a higher flat hourly rate in place of penalty rates, with the rate negotiated between the worker and employer.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said it believes such a regime, provided it does not come with an excessive administrative burden, would be of great benefit to small businesses in particular, as it would substantially simplify their payroll processes.

Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA, said the small business council also welcomed the proposal.

“Sure, there are some challenges in changing long-held employment practices such as weekend penalty rates but small business has had to move to accommodate increased societal demands for weekend trading and it is only sensible that we revisit weekend employment practices,” Mr Strong said.

Sunday penalty rates ruling by January 20

Mr Ross said at the summit the commission was committed to meeting its timeliness benchmarks for the release of the penalty rates decision.

Mr Ross said that there was one matter still to be dealt with prior to the full bench considering its decision, and that matter would be completed by October 28, 2016.

The benchmarks set for the commission require the full bench to release
the penalty rates decision by January 20, 2017.

The FWC announced it had postponed its final verdict as to whether to reduce Sunday penalty rates last month.

The ARA, which alongside the Master Grocers Association has been spearheading the campaign to reduce Sunday penalty rates, seeking to reduce Sunday rates from an additional 100 per cent to an additional 50 per cent.

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