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penalty rates

Penalty rates: employers test the waters

Although the recent cuts to penalty rates initiated by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) are aimed primarily at employees in retail and hospitality industries, there is no doubt that they will encourage employers in other industries to attack such payments. 

Take, for example, the case of private health care provider, Sonic Health Plus, which is currently negotiating a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) with its nursing staff. 

The company is proposing a cut in Sunday penalty rates of at least a third. While Nurses Union negotiators have rejected the claim, there is no doubt that employees in less unionised sectors will be increasingly be threatened by such moves.       

ACTU President Ged Kearney said that it was no coincidence that Sonic Health Plus had proposed the claims just a few days after Prime Minister Turnbull said he supported the penalty rate cuts.

“This is a sign of the times,” she said.

“The Fair Work Commission decision to cut penalty rates has emboldened employers and no Australian worker is safe unless the Government steps in now.”

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