Penalty rates changes causing uncertainty for retailers
"If there had been no relaxation, there would have been an outcry", said Graeme Watson, former Vice President of the Fair Work Commission, in relation to the recent decision to reduce Sunday and public holiday penalty rates, at a recent client briefing hosted by Lander & Rogers.
Commenting that while the decision was "no surprise", Watson acknowledged that there was now uncertainty for retailers. While the Commission has indicated that the transition to the new Sunday penalty rates will be achieved by a series of annual adjustments over a period of at least two years, it has not reached a final view on what these arrangements will be and has said that it will seek submissions from interested parties.
Daniel Proietto, partner and head of Lander & Rogers' Retail & Supply Chain sector, said, "A decision regarding the nature of transitional arrangements in relation to Sunday penalty rates will likely be handed down in May or June this year. Obviously this leaves retailers and their staff in a position of some uncertainty, particularly for those employers with expired enterprise agreements.
"Large retailers with existing enterprise agreements should review their current arrangements as the penalty rates decision will affect their industrial relations strategy, particularly in light of the Fair Work Commission's recent approach to approving these agreements.
"In particular, retailers who are considering making an application to the Fair Work Commission for approval of a new enterprise agreement should pay particular attention to the timing of the application, as the better off overall test will apply at the time of approval. This may or may not require the Fair Work Commission to consider transitional arrangements for Sunday penalty rates."