Productivity Commission report backs penalty rate, workplace reform

The Productivity Commission released a Workplace Relations Framework draft report that supports a cut in weekend penalty rates, unfair dismissal reform and a new statutory “enterprise contract” between small business and workers.

However, Prime Minister Tony Abbott stated that he would not alter the industrial relations regime during this term of government, and that any changes to penalty rates would need to be made by the industrial umpire.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the framework demonstrates steps to prepare the workplace relations system for the future by highlighting several areas where greater flexibility could be introduced.

CEO of the ACCI, Kate Carnell said: “Given the importance of workplace relations to our future productivity and prosperity, we are thankful that the Commission is studying our existing arrangements and looking at ways they can be improved. 

“The recommendation that penalty rates on Sundays in hospitality, entertainment, retail, restaurants and cafes be the same as on Saturdays is strongly supported by ACCI because it will increase employment opportunities.

“We are disappointed the recommendations do not fully address employers’ concerns in relation to unfair dismissal laws, general protections regime and the new anti-bullying jurisdiction. We will continue to advocate for changes in these areas.”

The Australian Retailers Association said it’s pleased to see the Productivity Commission has opened up discussion on penalty rates.

“The ARA, along with a group of retailers, is already engaged in a review of the General Retail Industry Award 2010 (GRIA), with the view to reducing costs for retailers who trade on Sundays,” said Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the ARA.

The ARA is arguing for a reduction in Sunday penalty rates from 100 percent, known as double time, to 50 per cent, or time and half for retail workers.


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