EMPLOYERS and workers in the Gympie business community have shown mixed opinions about the proposal to change penalty rates for Sunday workers.
In a recent report by the Productivity Commission, the nationwide deduction of the Sunday penalty would have workers being paid the Saturday rate of time and a half rather than the usual double time rate.
The proposal has sparked complaint by many, including Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who reportedly said the reduction would hit the lowest paid workers and people giving up their Sundays for work deserved to be compensated.
From a business perspective, however, Gympie Chamber of Commerce president Ben Ellingsen welcomes the recommendations as a chance to achieve a more sensible approach to penalty rates.
"The Productivity Commission recommendations are about updating our Sunday penalty rates in line with a changing Australian society," Mr Ellingsen said.
"This is an opportunity to achieve a more sensible approach to how penalty rates are applied so small and medium businesses can continue to thrive and employ.
"A recent CCIQ survey found that the majority of small businesses in the hospitality sector (76%) and retail sector (74%) reduce operating and employment hours as a result of penalty rates.
"This a significant issue particularly for those businesses operating in the hospitality, retail and tourism industries that operate for seven days or outside standard trading hours.
"We must remember that workplace relations impact on every business, in every industry and in every region."
Dick Smith Electronics manager John Hughes agreed that the move can only be a good thing for Gympie and would help the regional town make a cultural change towards accepting Sunday trading.
"Sunday trading is becoming a really important shopping day for people," he said.
"I think we're going to be able to give customers better service on Sundays by employing more people, as we're paying less for it," he said.
He also believes it will help reduce theft, with more staff presence on Sundays meaning fewer losses, which would result in the savings being fed back into wages.
Gympie's Surf Dive n Ski manager Jodie Richards said reducing the penalty rate could create staffing problems for her.
"The problem is that it's hard to get staff to work on a Sunday and if you take away the penalty rates it means I'm going to struggle to get someone to do a Sunday shift," she said.
"It's okay if you're in the city or in a holiday destination where the culture is seven day trading, but in a small country town, people spend more time with their family."
Surf Dive n Ski employee Stacey Dodt agreed the incentive to work on Sundays would be gone if penalty rates were changed.
"We've got to leave our families to work on Sunday," she said.
"We're sacrificing our day that we could be spending with them so we need some incentive."
The Productivity Commission recommended no changes to other penalty rates such as overtime, night or shift loadings.
What you said on Facebook:
Jason Roxburgh Yes, everyone deserves a weekend. And if you have to work on the weekend both days should be penalty rates.
Just because Monday to Friday workers can't get their act together during the week why should people not get penalties on the weekends? Rant over.
Damien Perissinotto Having Sunday penalty rates brought into line with Saturday sounds reasonable to me.
These days we are in a seven-day retail and hospitality economy, and this has been driven by the consumers, not the businesses.
Some people like to work weekdays, some choose to work weekends, others choose the FIFO life.
It seems unfair to me that someone who works eight hours on a Sunday earns as much as a co-worker who works 20 hours on Monday, Tuesday and half of Wednesday.
Sure there should be a premium, but not as much as it currently is.
I do however, think that if they're working over 38 hours a week, that significant penalty rates are fair.
Wes Wilcox Yes. Seven-day retail is a joke. ...it's just designed so the major stores can kill off the little corner store owners.
And this is their attempt at a red herring.
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