By Clyde Mooney

A report released by the Productivity Commission last Thursday has questioned the ‘fairness’ of the Fair Work Act.

The recommendation was focused on the plight of the retail industry, which is both experiencing a significant economic downturn and struggling to cope with the requirement to satisfy the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT).

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) today acknowledged this move forward, recognising the similarities between the Australian retail and hospitality industries.

The AHA notes that both industries are labour-intensive, award-reliant and employ large numbers of people, and both face labour shortages and competition from overseas.

The Productivity Commission recommend that in an upcoming review of the Fair Work Act, which became fully operational January 1, 2010, obstacles facing employers negotiating enterprise bargaining agreements be addressed.

Reference 9.1 of the Draft Recommendations in the Commission’s report also recommends that all retail trading hours should be fully deregulated in all states, including public holidays.

This comes as part of recognition that Australia suffers the dual burdens of distance and high labour costs, which contribute greatly to the loss of tourism dollars to overseas businesses, particularly with the Australian dollar at near-record highs.


The Shout Team

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  1. The retail situation can only get worse for small retailers over the next three years as Sunday wage rates increase to the same level as Public Holidays – 150% loading thanks to the Fair Work Act instead of 25% loading in 2009! What will this do to tourist destinations and retail jobs in those towns???

  2. As I work in the retail industry as a casual (hospitality) and we never received any loading there must be enough loopholes in the legislation already for employees to get away with not even paying the 25%loading. Until all emlopyees, without exeption, are forced to pay a decent loading, as agreed to with the releveant unions, for weekend and holiday work, the fair work Act should stay in place. As to the tourism industry, maybe Australia should come off it’s high horse and deregulate,liquor,gambling, tobacco make it easier for small operators to set up beach bars, mobile food vans..look at Asia or Europe for a little inspiration. There you can buy anything anywhere.

  3. The 25% loading you refer to was a casual loading, not a penalty rate. Depending on which state you are in the majority of older awards also had similar penalties for working weekends and holidays.

    The exception was for new companies (not sole traders i.e. the little guys) established after Work Choices. They stripped employees of there businesses of all penalties and only now are they slowly coming back.

    For most businesses in the hospitality industry, such as pubs, clubs and hotels, they were probably operating and appying penalties long before Work Choices came in. It seems a case of wanted to bleed already relatively low paid employees.

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