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Report calls for Sunday penalty rates to be scrapped

CHANGE CONSIDERED: Purple Haze cafe owner Leisa Connolly.
CHANGE CONSIDERED: Purple Haze cafe owner Leisa Connolly. Adam Hourigan

A PRODUCTIVITY Commission report has called for Sunday penalty rates to be scrapped, and brought in line with Saturday pay rates.

The recommended changes would affect employees in retail, hospitality and entertainment.

The report acknowledged the role of penalty rates in compensating workers for long hours and shift work, but found Sunday penalty rates were not in line with changing consumer preferences, and inhibited job opportunities.

"For some parts of the economy, Sunday is becoming the new Saturday," the report said.

Purple Haze cafe owner Leisa Connolly said if penalty rates for a Sunday were brought to Saturday levels, she would consider opening over the weekend.

"It would be a good thing for our business," Ms Connolly said.

"At the moment, we don't open of a weekend because the wages are going to be more than what we would earn so we don't bother," she said.

Village Green hotel manager Mark Knott said such a change would not increase employment.

"I don't think it would cut staff at all, but I don't think it would put more staff on either because we don't need any more staff on a Sunday," Mr Knott said.

"If penalty rates were cut it would make it cheaper to have staff, but I don't cut the rosters of a Sunday because of penalty rates," he said.

"I cop it because it's a busy day and we need the staff and I don't want a drop in service."

SPAR Maclean owner Bob Little said penalty rates were a tricky issue for retail.

"I do recognise that traditionally the majority of Australians considered the weekend to be different," Mr Little said.

"I think that in some way it's fair to pay people extra to work a weekend, but I don't believe it's double time," he said.

"As far as our retail industry is concerned, it's a seven-day trading organisation.

"People expect us to be open, and I think to me Saturday and Sunday are no different to any other day."

South Grafton Ex-Services Club assistant manager Heidi Buist said without the penalty it would be a struggle to find staff.

"There's got to be some benefit to working it," she said.

"If it's taken away, where's the incentive?"

The recommendations have been directed to the Fair Work Commission.

Topics:  debate, grafton, penalty rates, sunday wages




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