The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) says it will strongly oppose any application from the SDA (Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association) for judicial review of the Sunday-penalty-rates decision.
ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman says the penalty-rates decision was initially approved by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) as the evidence presented conclusively proved a reduction in penalty rates would increase employment rates across Australia and sustain economic growth.
“The commission found that a reduction in Sunday penalty rates will allow retailers to extend trading hours, giving staff more hours to work and increase employment across the board,” he said.
He added that the ARA believes the commission reached an appropriate and balanced decision that would greatly benefit the retail industry.
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“Many consumers feel that retail stores are understaffed on Sundays, and now, due to the reduced penalty rates, retailers can cater to consumer needs by adding more people to the roster, improving their service to consumers and increasing hours for employees,” Mr Zimmerman said
The ARA will further challenge any attempt by the SDA to defer the implementation of the Sunday-penalty-rates decision until the application for judicial review has been determined.
The application for judicial review will be made after the FWC has issued orders on the transition to the Sunday-penalty-rate reduction, which the ARA says it expects will happen later this month.
Saturday casual rates
The ARA says it also opposes the SDA’s proposed increase to Saturday casual rates, claiming such a move would impede retail growth nationally.
Mr Zimmerman says any increase in Saturday casual rates will eliminate many of the benefits achieved through reducing Sunday penalty rates.
“With the Fair Work Commission and Federal Court’s recent decisions on casual employment, redundancy and annual-leave entitlements, the cost of engaging casual employees is already substantial, and acts as a disincentive to casual employment,” he said.
He adds that the ARA believes casual jobs are an important step into gaining long-term employment within the industry, and flexible hours are essential to retailers.
“With the existing change-of-hours rules around part-time employees, there’s a continual need for casual employees and their flexible working arrangements,” Mr Zimmerman said.