More work for Victorians from reduced penalty rates

Victorian businesses have told the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry that the reduction in Sunday and public holiday penalty rates will improve customer experience in shops, cafes, pharmacies and hotels, while making more hours available for more workers.

Since the decision from the full bench of the Fair Work Commission, affected businesses have claimed the benefits of reduced penalty rates will be positively felt by all customers and workers will also be able to get more shifts at work.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Mark Stone AM said the new rates would allow some businesses to now open on Sundays, when previously it was more cost-effective to stay closed.

“Some of our members are reporting that they will now be able to open or stay open longer and put on more staff on weekends and public holidays,” he said.

“This presents new opportunities, particularly for young people who often get their first job in retail and hospitality.”

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed almost 19,000 people decided to stop looking for work in Victoria in January, and more than 14 per cent of people aged between 15 and 24 looking for work wouldn’t find it.

“With unemployment rates for young people in parts of regional Victoria often above 20 per cent, the new penalty rates will improve job prospects and opportunities in areas that desperately need it,” said Mr Stone.

“We are calling for the Federal Parliament to respect the decision of the Commission and stand by the independent decision based on expert evidence and many weeks of hearings.”

A selection of Victorian businesses shared with the Victorian Chamber how the new penalty rates would improve job opportunities:

“We had scaled back all weekend work to the absolute minimum. Minimum hours and minimum staff, with the changes to penalty rates we will be able to un-skeleton our staff and take on more people and open for longer. By increasing opening hours we estimate we will generate an extra 20 hours of employment a week in our one store.” – BK’s Takeaway

“This change means we will be employing more staff on weekends and after hours, everyone will benefit.” – Southeby’s Australia

“We want to employ someone on a weekend but the penalty rates have been a consideration that meant you cut hours rather than give them. It means more work from a business perspective, it means my workers will have more work available to them.” – Alpine Community Plantation

The Victorian Chamber’s State Budget Submission includes recommendations to support employers to increase their workforces:

  • Reduce payroll tax liabilities for businesses, by increasing the payroll tax threshold to $850,000 by 1 July 2018.
  • Provide a meaningful financial incentive for businesses to take on apprentices. For example, give employers a 10 per cent payroll tax reduction if they commit to getting at least five per cent of their workforce in apprenticeships or traineeships within five years.
  • Reduce red tape, such as excessive record keeping requirements and delays in planning approvals which prevent companies from growing their business.