Labor Party leader Bill Shorten put holiday penalty rates back in the conversation over the Easter long weekend, a period when many retailers paid lower rates than in years past.
Shorten reaffirmed Labor’s position to restore penalty rates over the first 100 days of being elected Prime Minister at the May 18 federal election, which would overturn a 2017 Fair Work Commission decision to slowly lower the penalty rate for these employees across weekends, public holidays and late or early shifts by 2020.
Similar forecasts by Shorten past year were decried by National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb last year as a desperate political stunt, pointing to the conclusion by the FWC as having been the final result of a two-year consultation with the retail industry.
But Labor was not the sole reason penalty rates were in the news over the long weekend. The scrutiny subject was back in the spotlight due to the fact many service providers held on the 10 to 15 per cent holiday surcharge, despite paying reduced penalty rates to employees.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Chamber for Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson stated surcharges wouldn’t be removed unless penalty rates were cut entirely since it still costs companies more to open on select days.