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The Fair Work Commission has handed down a decision to slash penalty rates of workers in hospitality, fast food, retail and pharmacy industries. The decision was made on the basis that working Sundays is now more socially acceptable.

1. What was the Decision?

The decision was part of a 4-yearly review of modern awards, focusing on the pay rates of employees working on Sundays. In short, the decision will cut penalty rates by a specified percentage on Sundays and public holidays. The below table summarises the decision in the relevant industries:

HospitalityFull-time and part-time employees175% penalty rate now reduced to 150%250% penalty rate now reduced to 225%
Casual employeesNo variation275% penalty rate now reduced to 250%
Fast Food Full-time and part-time employees150% penalty rated now reduced to 125%250% penalty rate now reduced to 225%
Casual employees175% penalty rate now reduced to 150%275% penalty rate now reduced to 250%
Retail Full-time and part-time employees200% penalty rate now reduced to 150%250% penalty rate now reduced to 225%
Casual employees200% penalty rate now reduced to 175%No variation
PharmacyFull-time and part-time employees200% penalty rate now reduced to 150% for hours worked between 7:00am and 9:00pm250% penalty rate now reduced to 225%
Casual employees200% penalty rate now reduced to 175% for hours worked between 7:00am and 9:00pm275% penalty rate now reduced to 250%



The Fair Work Commission noted that Saturday pay rates will not be altered as they achieve the modern award objective – “to provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net.”

2. Does this Affect me or my Business?

The decision will affect employees working on Sundays and public holidays, if the employment is covered by one of the following awards:

  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010;
  • Fast Food Industry Award 2010;
  • General Retail Industry Award 2010; or the
  • Pharmacy Industry Award 2010.

3. Implementation

The new pay rates are to be implemented from 1 July 2017 coinciding with any increases in the modern award minimum wages.

We note that the Fair Work Commission stated that the changes may not apply uniformly across all hospitality and retail businesses. They further provided that the reduction of the penalty rates will depend on the “circumstances applying to individual businesses.”

If you have any questions about how this decision might impact your business, please contact Alex Martin, Director, on 9481 2000 or alex@tauruslawyers.com.au.

Posted by Taurus Legal Management