Court stands firm on penalty rate cuts
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.