Court stands firm on penalty rate cuts

Myrtleford Times - - News -

HUN­DREDS of lo­cal hospitality, re­tail and fast-food work­ers will con­tinue to see their penalty rates cut af­ter unions lost their le­gal bid to over­turn them.

The Fed­eral Court last Wed­nes­day ruled that the Fair Work Com­mis­sion met its le­gal obli­ga­tions when it handed down its de­ci­sion to cut Sun­day and pub­lic hol­i­day penalty rates for full-time and part­time work­ers in Fe­bru­ary.

The United Voice and the Shop, Dis­tribu­tive and Al­lied Em­ploy­ees As­so­ci­a­tion had ar­gued that the com­mis­sion’s de­ci­sion was in­con­sis­tent with the Fair Work Act, was “legally un­rea­son­able” and had failed to con­sider how cut­ting the rates would af­fect low-paid em­ploy­ees.

But Fed­eral Court Judge Mordy Bromberg said the court’s role was re­stricted to de­ter­min­ing whether the com­mis­sion had made an ad­min­is­tra­tive er­ror and “in the view of the court, the Fair Work Com­mis­sion’s de­ci­sion read as a whole re­veals no ju­ris­dic­tional er­ror”.

The Shop Dis­tribu­tive and Al­lied Em­ploy­ees As­so­ci­a­tion (SDA) said it would con­tinue to fight to change the laws with United Voice.

Cuts to rates paid on pub­lic hol­i­days took ef­fect on July 1 this year while Sun­day penalty rate cuts are be­ing in­tro­duced over sev­eral years.

Lo­cal fed­eral mem­ber Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) has main­tained that the in­de­pen­dence of the Fair Work Com­mis­sion, and its de­ci­sion, needs to be re­spected.

It is a sen­ti­ment be­ing echoed by em­ployer and in­dus­try groups wel­com­ing Wed­nes­day’s de­ci­sion, say­ing the new penalty rates were “fair and rel­e­vant” for em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees.

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