Retailers slam Christmas penalty rates hike

The National Retail Association (NRA) has slammed the decision to raise penalty rates just before Christmas.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled that penalty rates will rise by 25 per cent for 350,000 casual retail employees who work on Saturday and after 6pm on weekdays. The ruling will come into effect on November 1, 2018.

‘Hamstrung’

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said, “Many retailers across the country have been confronting an extraordinarily challenging period throughout 2018. This has been reflected in the latest ABS release for retail sales.

“Small retailers in particular are already struggling with soaring electricity costs and increasing wholesale prices.

“Now, these mum-and-dad small business owners will need to absorb a hike in Saturday penalty rates for casual staff that many simply cannot afford.

“The retail sector is about to enter its busiest part of the year – the Christmas trade period. The last thing they need is to be hamstrung with further costs.

“There is no point in giving a Saturday casual worker a pay rise if it results in their shift being reduced or cut altogether.

“At the moment, the money simply isn’t there to be asking small business owners to fork out more cash on wages.”

Get the right advice

Senior Employment Relations Adviser Alexandra Woods, from workplace-relations firm Employsure, says the higher penalty rates are both ill-timed and disruptive.

“Small business employers are feeling the pinch during the peak season and increasing consumer demand for longer operating hours before Christmas,” she said.

“Many retailers by now have already planned rosters and hired casuals before the busy wave of Christmas. Now, with this decision introduced, retailers are going to have to rethink their rostering arrangements and budgets.

“It’s so important to be across these changes now ahead of your busiest period.

“Check if the new penalty rates changes apply to your business before November 1, 2018. Get the right advice to avoid paying the expensive price of getting it wrong.”

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