Timing decision about penalty rate changes gives businesses certainty, NSW Chamber says

Business view: Seasalt Cafe & Restaurant owner Cassie Clark says the gradual introduction of penalty rate changes means industries can start to adapt.

Business view: Seasalt Cafe & Restaurant owner Cassie Clark says the gradual introduction of penalty rate changes means industries can start to adapt.

PENALTY rate reductions will be gradually phased in after a decision from the Fair Work Commission.

The state’s peak business organisation, the NSW Business Chamber, says the Fair Work Commission’s decision on when the changes to penalty rates will come into effect will allow business to appropriately plan for future trading and staff requirements.

Seasalt Cafe & Restaurant owner Cassie Clark believes the gradual introduction of penalty rate changes means industries can start to adapt.

Mrs Clark usually doesn’t open her business at Port Macquarie Marina on public holidays due to a combination of penalty rates and to allow staff to have some quality family time.

Seasalt opens seven days a week otherwise.

“I’m all for penalty rates on the weekend because I know my business is busy enough to warrant it,” Mrs Clark said.

Meanwhile, the Fair Work Commission decided in February to alter the Pharmacy, Retail, Hospitality and Fast Food Awards.

The Fair Work Commission ruling confirms when the changes will come into place, with a gradual reduction in penalty rates occurring over two or three years, and the reduction in a public holiday rates from 250 per cent to 225 per cent from July 1, 2017.

NSW Business Chamber chief executive officer Stephen Cartwright said he would like to congratulate the Commission on this decision because the business community now had certainty in how the original decision will be implemented.

“The Commission has made transitional orders that respect both the workers and their employers,” he said.

But the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the Fair Work Commission decision to apply an extended phasing in of penalty rates changes meant it would take longer for the benefits to flow to consumers, small business operators and people seeking more work opportunities.

Jenny Lambert, Director of Employment, Education and Training at the Australian Chamber, said: “The sooner penalty rates are reduced the sooner the community will experience the benefits, and the decision extends that for up to four years.

“When penalty rates are too high, they make it impossible for small businesses to open their doors and if the doors are not open on a Sunday, nobody gets penalty rates.”