Sigh of relief from employers

Latrobe Valley proprietors have welcomed new changes to Sunday and public holiday penalty rates announced by the Fair Work Commission last week.

Under the announcement, workers in the hospitality, retail, fast-food and pharmacy sectors will see their current Sunday and public holiday pay rate slashed by up to 25 per cent.

But business operators say it will help boost job opportunities and productivity.

The Valley’s business sector is backing the move citing the opportunity for employment growth and more regular business, among other benefits.

Traralgon Guardian Pharmacy pharmacist Mick Henning said the decision came as a relief as most pharmacies worked extended hours over the weekend and public holidays.

“Of course it’s not going to go down well with employees but it helps run the business and you’ve got to cover your cost,” Mr Henning said.

“We haven’t made a decision to pay our employees in accordance with the new ruling or to keep it at the same rate, but it really depends on who we employ on that day.

“It certainly makes a big difference working in sectors like hospitality in places like pubs and clubs where they would have the incentive to work unusual and unconventional hours – the incentive might not be as big not to do that now.”

Mr Henning said the pharmacy employed younger staff on Sundays and public holidays to minimise cost and boost productivity.

Kay Street Entertainment Complex owner-operator Andrew Panayiotou said the decision was “great news” for the hospitality sector.

“It’s certainly going to be a good thing because many restaurants don’t open on Sunday or a public holiday because it’s simply not worth operating,” Mr Panayiotou.

“People need to realise how hard it is to stay in business with skyrocketing operating costs such as insurance, public liability, work cover, superannuation, liquor licensing, power and water costs and more.

“I think for the likes of restaurants who are doing it tough at the moment, this will have a big impact and ultimately increase employment opportunities in the near future.”

However Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearny said the ruling could result in some workers losing up to $6000 per year and said no worker would be better off as a result of the decision.

“Retail, fast-food, pharmacy and hospitality workers work extraordinary hours and deserve to be compensated for working on weekends and late nights when the vast majority of the Australian workforce does not,” Ms Kearny said.

If you’re an employee impacted by the changes to penalty rates and would like to share your story phone The Express on 5135 4444 or email