Penalty Rates, Minimum Wages, and Purchasing Power

by Jim Stanford

The Fair Work Commission released two major decisions this week: its order regarding the timing for the implementation of reductions in penalty rates for Sunday and public holiday work in four major retail and hospitality awards, followed by its annual review of the general minimum wage. Both decisions will take effect on July 1. It is interesting to review the combined impact that the two decisions will have on the wages of workers in sectors affected by the penalty rates decision. In particular, does the Fair Work Commission’s decision to phase those cuts in over two or three years somehow protect the workers who will now receive lower wages for work on Sundays and holidays? Our previous research suggested this was not possible; we can re-examine that question in light of the Fair Work Commission’s two actual decisions.

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