New overtime penalty rates from 1 January

penalty rates

Last year employers welcomed the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) decision to cut penalty rates for Sunday and public holiday rates in the retail and hospitality industries. Now, the FWC is making another wave of changes that senior employment relations adviser of Employsure Andrew Spiteri said is “yet another financial burden on industries running on thin margins”.

The various changes apply to the fast food, restaurant, retail, hospitality, hair and beauty Awards; among a total of 11 Modern Awards. The changes took effect from the start of the first full pay period starting on or after 1 January 2018.

Spiteri said that employers in affected industries are rightly confused and frustrated. “These industries have been targeted all year with Award changes and are about to see another wave—at the busiest time of the year.”

Broadly, the changes provide part-time employees with greater flexibility of rosters and provide casuals the entitlement to overtime penalty rates—an entitlement not previously given to them.

In addition, casual employees can receive overtime penalty rates at the same rate as part-time employees, for time worked in excess of 12 hours in a day or 38 hours in a week (or, where they work on a roster, they perform work for more than 38 hours per week averaged over a roster cycle, which cannot be more than four weeks).

While the changes will be welcomed by thousands of affected employees, small business employers are feeling the pinch during the peak season with increasing consumer demand for longer operating hours.

“We speak to thousands of small business owners every week who would like to see government stop making frequent changes to overtime penalty rates and get serious about supporting small business,” Spiteri said, adding that employers should educate themselves.

“It’s so important to be across these changes and check if the new rates apply to your business. Get the right advice to avoid paying the expensive price of getting it wrong.”

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