Minister calls for cut to Sunday pay rates
Small business proposal
Workers at small businesses should have their Sunday and public holiday pay rates cut, according to Small Business Minister Joe Francis.
Mr Francis revealed the Government was considering ways to make it more economical for small businesses to open on Sundays and public holidays.
He said too many were keeping their doors closed on these days because penalty rates would force them to pay staff about “$60 an hour for some very basic tasks”.
Mr Francis predicted the problem would get worse as a “tidal wave” of deregulation hit regions across the State, especially as big business was subject to lower penalties on these days.
Big incorporated businesses negotiate agreements in the Federal industrial system, and most have lower Sunday and public holiday penalty rates but higher hourly rates through the week.
Mr Francis said it was time to level the playing field between big and small business. “I don’t think its fair for small business to pay a higher rate for their staff on weekends and public holidays than big business does, ” he said.
“I would like to see small business pay less for overtime and penalty rates. The current system is stopping them from being competitive.”
Analysis of several agreements by The West Australian show staff at big companies get paid 50 per cent more on Sunday and 150 to 250 per cent more on public holidays.
Those working for smaller businesses in the State system usually get double time or double time-and-a-half on Sundays and public holidays.
Most big businesses offered a slightly higher hourly weekday rate than the smaller businesses.
Mr Francis told the WA Regional Small business Awards last month that levelling the penalty system was the State Government’s next big challenge.
“It’s just not reasonable for people to open their door on Sunday and public holidays and pay (staff) $60 an hour for some very basic tasks, ” he said. “You make a commercial decision not to open because it’s too expensive.”
UnionsWA secretary Meredith Hammat said any proposed changes to cut penalty rates would be opposed.
“A penalty rate pay cut will just mean these workers will have to work even longer unsociable hours to make up for lost pay, ” Ms Hammat said.
“Unions will fight a weekend penalty pay cut if there are no other benefits for low paid workers.”
PHOTO: Small Business Minister Joe Francis with Small Business Commissioner David Eaton.
© The West Australian
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