NRA successfully defends penalty rates decision

Media Release

1 July, 2020

The NRA has successfully defended the 2017 Penalty Rates Case following an attempt by the unions to delay the final stage of Sunday penalty rate reductions.

Addressing a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission on Monday, counsel for the NRA successfully asserted that a sudden change to the modern award, so soon before it needed to be implemented and in the early stages of the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, was in nobody’s interest.

The SDA, with the support of the AWU and RAFFWU, applied to have the final reduction to Sunday penalty rates delayed from 1 July 2020 to 1 February 2021, in line with the delayed increase to minimum wages.

Finding the arguments advanced by the NRA more compelling, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission dismissed the application.

The Fair Work Commission agreed with the NRA’s submission that the need to ensure a ‘stable … modern award system’ weighed against granting the last-minute attempt by the SDA to defer scheduled penalty rate reductions.

“This decision will help struggling small business fend off Australia’s first recession in 30 years and help keep people in work. We are pleased to see common sense and caution prevail in these uncertain times,” NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said.

“The NRA supports workers being paid a fair wage, but Sunday penalty rates also have to be affordable or the worker doesn’t get a Sunday pay cheque at all.

“With 70% of retail businesses operating on reduced revenue compared to the same time last year, a delay in a long-awaited reduction to penalty rates would have had severe consequences for small businesses in particular.”

With the SDA’s application dismissed, reductions to Sunday penalty rates will take effect as intended from 1 July 2020, with the 1.75% increase to minimum wages in the General Retail Industry Award 2010 taking effect from 1 February 2021.

Source: National Retail Association.

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