Australia's Sunday penalty rates will be slashed

The Fair Work Commission has reduced penalty rates paid in retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries from existing levels, which, in some cases, are as much as "double time".

"There is no doubt that some major employers have delayed entering new EBAs [Enterprise Bargaining Agreements] until [the] Fair Work Commission's decision in anticipation of a penalty rate cut", union secretary Gerard Dwyer said.

As the political storm over the penalty rate cut escalated on Friday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that, although low-paid workers were in line for a pay cut on Sundays, the inquiry had found it would boost employment and work hours.

In addition, the Commission took into account that working on a public holiday is more common in the hospitality and retail sectors, and that reducing penalty rates may increase employment on those days.

The commission said the change was justified because a "typical" fast food worker is a student who likes to work a mix of weekdays and weekends.

The Full Bench considered the historical objective of penalty rates, being to compensate employees for working outside "normal hours" and to deter employers from scheduling work outside "normal hours".

Fast-food employees' Sunday rates will go from 150 per cent to 125 per cent for full-time and part-time staff, and casuals will go from 200 per cent to 175 per cent. The independent umpire makes decisions based on the rules they are given.

Penalty rates and working on Sundays is something many of us have come to take for granted during our working lives. Aussies who rely on penalty rates generally earn a relatively low wage.

Although both measures are opposed by the government and therefore won't be achieved in legislation this term, Adelaide Law School professor and labour law expert, Andrew Stewart, told Guardian Australia the commission already had the power to spare current workers.

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If we can not avoid a prolonged economic downturn, as predicted by many analysts, our recovery would be far quicker if our parliament undertook much-needed reforms now rather than wait until further deteriorations forces a reactive response.

Weekend and holiday penalty rates have been slashed.

'I'm not happy about it, working on the weekend is lot worse than during the week, ' she said of the Fair Work decision.

A recent report by the McKell institute examining the financial impact of reduced penalty rates concluded it create a "substantial decline in regional and rural economies".

Sunday rates for full-time and part-time hospitality workers will fall from 175 per cent to 150 per cent.

"The Greens have introduced a bill that would prevent big businesses, like Coles, McDonalds and KFC, from striking unfair deals that allow them to pay their employees below the award", Bandt says.

The Fair Work Commission has announced penalty rates for casual, part-time and full-time retail employees will be reduced.

Kiejda added that the decision had wound back decades of progression in workers' rights and threatened the livelihoods of those who need it most.

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