Threat to reduction in penalty rates

Two workers in a cafe

On December 4 Labor and cross bench Senators successfully amended a government Bill to include provisions overturning the Fair Work Commission’s February 2017 decision to reform some Sunday and public holiday penalty rates in some hospitality and retail awards. The new rates started taking effect from 1 July 2017. The Bill, the Repeal of 4 Yearly Reviews and Other Measures Bill, was returned to the lower house on December 5, where it was rejected by the Government.

The matter does not end here. The Bill is to be reconsidered when Parliament resumes in early February 2018, at a time when the composition of the House and Senate is subject to change given the citizenship uncertainty.

The Opposition has repeatedly made clear its intention to overturn the penalty rate decision. By using this Bill, it has also made it more difficult to fix relatively non contentious problems with the Fair Work Act, including ending the current four year reviews and ensuring the scheduled 2018 review does not go ahead. Another problem which the Bill was originally intended to fix was the FWC non approval of enterprise agreements where there were minor procedural errors, and to fix problems with the notice of employee representational rights.

We will keep you posted on developments.