industrial relations

Business to start Sunday penalty rates campaign

Cara Waters /

Business groups are going to start a community and industrial campaign calling for Sunday penalty rates to be cut.

The campaign will be led by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry which claims a cut in penalty rates will increase consumer access to weekend trading and provide more youth employment.

John Osborn, chief operating officer at ACCI, told SmartCompany the chamber is planning a national campaign addressing the “very serious issue” of unreasonable penalty rates and the “very negative consequences” on unemployment, particularly youth unemployment.

Osborn says ACCI is seeking “significant changes” to the penalty rates regime and would like to see the rates included in the Productivity Commission’s upcoming review.

“We need changes which take pressure off those industries very negatively affected by penalty rates which lead to closure on weekends and lost job opportunities,” he says. 

Osborn could not say what the campaign will involve but says ACCI will first consult with its members.

The campaign is likely to be based on last year’s ‘Small business too big to ignore’ campaign

This will involve a combination of traditional advertising, social media and grass roots activism.

“Our focus is really making sure our young people in particular have a chance to gain a job, gain skills and build a career,” Osborn says.   

“We are focusing on making it easier to employ people and a simple way of doing that is looking at penalty rates.”

Penalty rates have long been a bone of contention for many employers who claim the rates make it too expensive to open on Sundays and to employ staff on those days.

Restaurant and café owners had a win on the issue earlier this year after a landmark decision by the Fair Work Commission to reduce the 75% penalty rate for casual employees on Sundays to 50%.

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is the former editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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