industrial relations

Domino’s asks customers to pitch in on Sunday pay bump as the business community waits for penalty rate decision

Emma Koehn /

A Fair Work Commission decision on Sunday penalty rates is imminent, but market darling Domino’s Pizza Enterprises has kicked off 2017 by asking customers to help pay for a weekend pay increase for the company’s “vital” team members.

Domino’s, which booked a 44% profit increase in 2016 at $92 million, announced a 10% Sunday surcharge last week to help cover a 25% hourly loading for team members working on Sundays.

“This will ensure the Sunday adult rates for our team members is between $29.16 and $29.97 an hour for in-store employees and $26.04 an hour for drivers, plus $2.27 for each delivery in their private vehicle,” a Domino’s spokesperson told SmartCompany.

Domino’s is still negotiating an expired enterprise agreement, with the company saying it expects a resolution in the first half of the year. The company says “significant disruption in the industrial relations environment” has led to the drawn out process, and says the wage increases come “as the negotiations have taken longer than anticipated”.

The changes came into effect on January 8, and mark a significant pay increase in particular for the company’s delivery drivers. Domino’s says this change is about a 40% increase on what drivers took home a year ago, with SmartCompany understanding the hourly Sunday rate for drivers one year ago was $18.99 an hour.

“The voluntary increase and surcharge were among a number of pricing models successfully tested with our customers, and agreed upon with our franchisees,” a spokesperson says.

Online, however, the feedback from customers was mixed—some congratulated the pizza chain for rewarding its staff and others were concerned about the previous low rates of pay. However, many people questioned why customers should have to foot the bill for staff penalty rates when a listed company like Domino’s is known for its increasing profits.

“Who was the smart cookie that came up with this dumb idea?” one customer asked on Facebook.

While businesses have previously told SmartCompany about the need for a surcharge to assist with the payment of staff’s public holiday penalty rates, a consistent surcharge applied to weekend work is less common in Australia.

The Domino’s announcement comes at a tense time for penalty rate discussions in Australia, as the business community waits to hear the Fair Work Commission’s decision on whether Sunday rates should be pulled in line with Saturday rates.

While an outcome was expected in September 2016, the commission delayed its decision after allowing more times for community submissions on the issue. Business groups have campaigned strongly for the change, arguing a 24/7 working environment means Sunday work should no longer be considered a special category.

The Productivity Commission recommended in 2016 that Sunday penalty rates in the hospitality and retail industries come into line with those applied on Saturdays.

Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany last year the system is already way to complicated, and businesses wanted a more straightforward way of calculating hourly rates.

“It’s pretty black and white,” he said.

“There are a bunch of people who can’t open their business because they have to pay higher rates [on Sundays].”

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* This article was updated on January 11 to include that Domino’s hourly casual driver rate was $18.99 at the beginning of 2016. 

Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

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  • T.J . Antipodes

    Penalty rates cost, you have to cover them some way.

    Germany only has 25% and 50% rates and unless the day is very long , you dont get them there till you have worked your 38 hours.

    The shops in Germany open later and close later so people who start early can shop. The country is largely closed down on Sunday, and the 2nd half of Saturday. it does not seem to hurt them and people know its “off time”.

    Maybe we should wake up and learn from the country that by value , has been the number :1 exporter in the world for most of the last 60 years.

    So lets have lower cost during the normal week.

    if we have to pay more for those expensive days, maybe we wont wont to to consume on those expensive days.

    Australia is such a backward country and we are bringing the house down.

    • Zhompo

      There’s a reason why Germany is only increasing its population through immigration – and why many of the more recent immigrants had planned not stay there.

      And there’s a reason Australia is increasing it’s population through birth and immigration.

      • That’s right, all those overseas people must have heard about our Sunday wages, so they rush to migrate here for them. Parents must be having babies so that the kids can get Sunday wages. It is so obvious.

  • T.J . Antipodes

    Domino’s is putting the extra cost and issue in everyone’s face.

  • David Lake

    Many of my clients have businesses that only operate on weekends, or that is their busiest period eg. tourism, hospitality. However due to higher wages they often go understaffed on these days, so everyone looses. Less work for other staff, poorer service, stressed staff who are working, and in some cases, higher bills for the consumer just for the pleasure of eating on a Sunday or Public Holiday.

    An employee can chose to work or not work Sundays, it’s your choice. To say “I am missing out on my Sunday so I should get almost double the pay” is ridiculous. To get paid more than Johnny who works on a checkout at Coles on a Wednesday is unfair, confusing, and overly complicated for businesses.

    It may be news to some, so here are the facts. A senior casual in tourism can get almost $40/hr on a Sunday, and over $56/hr on a public holiday. Where’s the logic? I’d be saying to my boss “I can only work Sundays. Sorry.” It’s like

    nb. Of course a penalty for workers doing overtime, late nights, full-timers working weekends and holidays etc… should be compensated, but not a Uni student working a Sunday that she is always going to work regardless of the penalties. Seriously, it’s like winning the lotto being rostered for a Sunday, and employees know it. It’s about time politicians, most of whom have never owned a hospitality or retail business in their lives, wake up and step into the 21st Century.

    • This rant would be more convincing if evidence was produced about the queue of people wanting to work on a Sunday. I am glad that a uni student can pick up enough to get by with just a Sunday work. Students are supposed to study, not wipe tables.

      • David Lake

        If you knew enough about a broad section of the small business community you would have your evidence DavidFilmart. “Students are supposed to study” – not sure what decade your are living in, but it sure ain’t this one.

        • Of course students do work these days. Just saying it is sensible to work on highest paying day and save time towards study. Is there a queue of people wanting to work on Sunday or not, as a matter of fact?

          • David Lake

            Great – so small business is not only now funding employee retirement they are also funding students to do a degree. Of course it makes sense for a student to work a Sunday. In fact it is exactly the argument.

          • So far, you have not answered the question, is there a queue of people wanting to work on a Sunday but not other days. Lets get back to supply and demand: the employer demands a worker and will pay a price (wages), the worker supplies him/herself to the extent that the price is worthwhile. Now, is there evidence that the supply of workers would hold up if the price was reduced by the buyers? If there is currently a queue for Sunday work, then the answer is yes. If not, no. This is a matter of objective fact, so where is the evidence.

    • Tan

      It will never happen as long as unions and Labour Party are in Australian politics .

  • Domino’s as a business model has done very well and has loyal/returning customers but their pizza’s are rubbish. When they first opened in Australia they were very nice “full of toppings and all toppings that the menu states” but in the past few years have become completely different, the food itself is ok but it’s how the pizzas are made which is just horrible. Very low on toppings and missing toppings, how it looks on the menu pictures is far far from how you get it. That is Domino’s profitable business model, charge more but give less.

    • Tan

      Since I arrived in Australia in 1986 , I had never seen the average prices of pizza gone up more than $10 . And even worse the prices dropped as low as $4.95 for some
      Deals and days while other prices had gone up significantly such as Chinese food from $6 a plate average back then to around $11 average now .

  • haydn

    Every hospitality business knows exactly how many public holidays and weekends there are in a year. There should be no need for any additional increase to cover the penalty rates due because the pricing model should have the extra costs built in over the whole year. To force customers to pay the extra is merely a poor business decision and Domino’s are just another company being greedy.

    • Tan

      I’m surprised that I was paying at least $25 for a pizza in singapore while here I only need to pay as little as $6.95 with double penalty rate on Sunday . I feel so sorry for the totally impossible pricing model to be applicable in australia as Long as the customer here is so cash poor and can only afford to pay a pizza for $6.95 and not $25 like in singapore !!!

  • It is fine for some businesses to not open on a Sunday. That creates extra revenue for those that do, thus building the pool from which the extra wages get paid out. Just put a note online and in window, “We are enjoying a Sunday break and we do not ask staff to work on Sunday either”. Your customers will come back because they know that you are refreshed, and a decent employer too. Let somebody else go slowly mad with no break from work.

    • David Lake

      Never owned a business in your life I would suggest.

  • Tan

    Let Australia go back to the pre 1990 ( recession time) where every shop closed on most Saturday and definitely shut on Sunday . Let the world knows that australia is ” closed ” for business on these 2 days and therefore stop the tourist coming and visiting Australia on Saturday and Sunday. Also, government needs to regulate that people can only shop to stock up food during Monday to Friday as Saturday and Sunday are closed and illegal to do business and employ people . The next thing to do for australia is to start bilateral agreement with North Korea and Cuba to learn onhow the communism and socialism can be applied more effectively in australia to ensure that fairness is for everyone and common people but for corporation and businesses ( capitalism ) . Welcome to australia in the 21st century !!