Penalty Rates Cut Deep

For people working in the hospitality, retail, and fast food industries, money is about to get tight.

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Penalty Rates To Be Cut (source: Vana)

For people working in the hospitality, retail, and fast food industries, money is about to get tight. After years of debate, penalty rates are being cut for people working in these industries on Sundays and public holidays.

The Fair Work Commission recently announced that penalty rates for Sunday work will be cut from double time, twice the amount someone might earn working a Monday to Friday shift, to time-and- a-half on the relevant days and will fall in line with Saturday penalty rates.

With the changes affecting each sector differently and having a huge impact on those working on the affected days, here’s a look of how the cuts will affect them:


For full- and part-time workers, Sunday rates will be reduced from 175 per cent to 150— and means a loss of $35 if an employee works an eight-hour shift on Sunday at the national minimum wage of $17.70 (i.e. $248-$212)—and will drop from 250 per cent to 225 on public holidays.

For casual workers on these days, their rates will remain at 175 and 250 per cent respectively.


Sunday rates for full- and part-time workers will drop from 200 per cent to 150, while rates for casual workers will only drop to 175 per cent. Penalty rates for retail workers with public holiday shifts are the same as hospitality workers.

Fast Food:

Level one fast-food workers— full- and part-time— will have their Sunday penalty rates reduced from 150 per cent to 125, while level two and three employees will stay at 150 per cent.

Pharmacy workers:

Sunday penalty rates for full- and part-time pharmacy workers will be reduced to 150 per cent from 200 and 175 per cent for casual workers.

And while it is the employees that will be affected by these cuts the most, it is a stark contrast considering it’s the employers who wanted these changes to be made, saying ‘the previous penalty rates were making it too expensive for them to run their businesses on the appropriate days’.

Employers are also saying that these changes will be a good thing as they will be able to give employees more shifts. But is that necessarily what the employees want?

Regardless of age and type of employment (FT, PT, or Casual), many people who have worked on Sundays and public holidays during the previous penalty rates system relied on it to make ends meet.

Take Evelyn Kathner’s story.

The Campbelltown Spotlight worker previously made $600/week and is set to lose $80/week due to the recent penalty cuts.

During a press conference held by Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who opposed changes to penalty rates, Ms Kathner went on to say, “Could anybody do the maths on how much they have to spend on their groceries, on their rent, on their water, on their internet?

“I am sure it is going to come way above $600. $80 is a huge amount” Ms Kathner then ended her speech calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to try living on $600/week, “Malcolm Turnbull, can you live on $600? Try it.”

Needless to say, this will have a huge effect on people working in these sectors and have relied on the previous penalty rates to make ends meet.

While it’s not clear exactly when the cuts to Sunday work will take effect, changes to public holiday rates will take effect on July 1 this year and late March for early and late night work loadings for restaurants and the fast food industry.

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Rowena Nagy is a graduate of The University of Tasmania and has over three years of experience as a writer and journalist and brings that knowledge and skill to all tasks she approaches. She has also worked in radio, co-hosting and co-producing a news and current affairs program during her Bachelor of Arts Degree and received a second-class lower division score for her Honours thesis on celebrity, media, and privacy. Rowena aims to gain experience in all areas of media and has high career aspirations.