Sunday, 26 February 2017

Did someone mention "penalty rates"?

Yes, that extra money paid if you happen to work on a Saturday or Sunday.
There used to be a good reason for Sunday penalty rates - people went to church. If they couldn't get to church they were compensated for not being able to go. Now penalty rates are more of an issue in the hospitality industry where people are paid to serve other people things like Sunday brunch. There used to be the assumption that most people worked Monday to Friday with some unlucky individuals having to work on Saturdays. Now a lot of people I know work quite different sort of hours - and many of them work far more than the "standard" number of hours. The way we live has changed since penalty rates for weekend work were introduced.
There were a slew of complaints about the proposed cuts - as is only to be expected. People said it was "big business" being "greedy". It is also possible it has something to do with more and more people demanding the "right" to shop whenever they please. "We are at work all week," they say, "We need to shop at night or on weekends." 
When I was a teacher I remember people telling me how lucky I was that I "only work(ed) between 9am and 3:30pm. They simply did not believe that I was there by 8:15am and left some time after 4pm and did several hours of preparation at night. So yes, being able to shop all day Saturday would have been useful but I don't think I needed to shop on Sunday. 
The Fair Work Commission wants to cut penalty rates on Sundays - while leaving Saturdays alone. I know people, mostly students, who choose to work on Sundays because it pays more. They often do it because they need the money. The argument is that penalty rates should not be cut because these people are working on other people's day off, that they don't get to socialise with family and friends and they rely on the extra money. 
The review of penalty rates was put in place by the previous government, specifically by the man who is now the Leader of the Opposition. He is a union man through and through. Either he was not canny enough to realise what the likely outcome would be or he simply didn't believe that the Fair Work Commission would come down on "the other side" (the employers). Whatever has happened he isn't happy with the outcome and he is, naturally, blaming the present government for what he set rolling. Perhaps though he really shouldn't be too worried. The whole issue could lead to an increase in union membership.

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