Colin Barnett proposes Small Biz-specific penalty rates

In Alcohol, Australian Domestic Tourism, Food, Government, National Headlines, Western Australia

Penalty rates: Colin Barnett proposes cut to weekend penalty wage for small businesses

From, 10th June 2014

A new state award that would reduce weekend penalty rates for some workers but increase weekday rates has been floated by Western Australia’s Premier.

Premier Colin Barnett said he had spoken to the Attorney-General about introducing the award, which would only cover small, unincorporated businesses.

Corporate entities are covered by federal laws.

“They (unincorporated businesses) are a state responsibility and that’s the typical shop you might see in a shopping mall or a street shopping environment employing perhaps just two or three people,” Mr Barnett said.

“They are the ones that are stuck with an award which stipulates higher penalty rates than Coles or Woolworths or any other stores like that would pay.”

Mr Barnett said small businesses paid award wages that offered unfairly high rates to those working at night and weekends.

“For the larger employers, the big supermarket chains, any of the brand names, they generally have negotiated enterprise agreements with the unions, which means that while penalty rates remain, they are lower than small business would face and they’re compensated by higher hourly rates during the week,” he said.

“I think that’s more sensible because many industries – hospitality, entertainment and so on – are now seven-day-a-week industries.”

Mr Barnett reiterated that he supported penalty rates, but he believed they were too high.

“I’m not arguing against them (penalty rates), but why should you see that people, perhaps on a second job over a weekend or students working part-time over a weekend, get dramatically higher hourly rates than people whose whole career and support in terms of their employment is working in the retail industry or in the hotel sector or the entertainment sector?” he said.

“I don’t think that’s fair. There should be penalty rates for weekend and night work but they shouldn’t be so far above the normal weekly, hourly rate, so it’s unfair to most people working in those industries.”

He said there were legal hurdles to the plan and that he had spoken to the Attorney-General about them.

“To me that’s no reason for not trying to provide something fairer to small business and also fairer to the employees,” he said.

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