CUT­TING PENALTY RATES NOT WAY TO BOOST JOBS

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Western Opinion -

EM­PLOYER lobby groups tend to ar­gue that penalty rates make it harder for busi­nesses to sur­vive or to em­ploy more peo­ple. But according to a new study by Cit­i­group re­leased last week, cut­ting penalty rates would in­crease share­holder prof­its, re­sult in neg­li­gi­ble sav­ings for cus­tomers who shop at ma­jor re­tail­ers, but re­sult in no pos­i­tive im­pact on jobs. While the cultural sig­nif­i­cance of Sun­day as a ‘day of rest’ has changed since penalty rates were in­tro­duced in 1919, the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion re­ported in its IR re­view last year that penalty rates had a role to play in com­pen­sat­ing em­ploy­ees for work­ing long or ‘aso­cial’ hours. Given the low base pay rates in re­tail and hospi­tal­ity, and the preva­lence of job in­se­cu­rity and un­der-em­ploy­ment in Aus­tralia, penalty rates make up a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of in­come for 4.5 mil­lion Aus­tralian work­ers. The Aus­tralian Work and Life In­dex re­ports that 37.8 per cent of work­ers who work week­ends only and get penalty rates rely on these to meet house­hold ex­penses. This goes up to 48.8 per cent for those work­ing both evenings and week­ends, and 52.2 per cent for Sun­days only. If gov­ern­ments want to help small busi­nesses flour­ish, they should cut – sig­nif­i­cantly – the com­pany tax rate for small busi­ness, not the wages of peo­ple who are al­ready among the worst paid in Aus­tralia.

Gio­vanni Torre - Re­porter

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