The retail world is abuzz with the talk of reductions in penalty rates, following on from the ruling at the High Court, that the Fair Work Commission’s landmark decision on reducing penalty rates in some Awards is to be upheld.

ACAPMA reminds its members that this confirmation of the landmark penalty rates decision does not have an impact on the operation of penalty rates in the fuel retail industry.  For us it’s business as usual.

Following the decision released by the Fair Work Commission in February this year, there have been a series of proceedings in the High Court where Unions have challenged the decision, arguing that the Commission was not allowed to make such changes.  The recent High Court ruling means that the decision stands and that penalty rates will be reduced in some, but not all, and not the retail fuel industry, Awards.

Decision recap

After an extensive and drawn out review process the Fair Work Commission handed down its decision in February this year on the application to modify weekend and public holiday rates in a variety of retail based Awards.

The Commission made the changes, that take Sunday penalties in the General Retail Award 2010 down from double time to time and a half, on the basis of extensive submissions from the retail industry that the changes would lead to longer trading hours and more jobs creation, while aligning the penalties to Sunday penalties within the broader group of Modern Awards.

The decision effects the weekend and public holiday rates in several different Awards including those in the fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries, in addition to the General Retail Award 2010.

“What is important for all fuel site operators to understand is that the changes will have no impact on the rates that they are required to pay to fuel site staff for weekend and public holiday work.” said Elisha Radwanowski, Executive Manager for Employment and Training at ACAPMA.

“There is only one Award the covers the console operators, roadhouse attendants and cook and the driveway attendants and that is the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Service and Retail Award 2010.  There has been no change to this Award, so we are reminding all operators that, despite the press, it is business as usual for fuel sites.”

“Interestingly, the change to the Sunday penalty rate in the General Retail Award 2010, from double time, down to time and a half, brings it in line with the Award for the fuel industry.” continued Elisha.

“It is important to get the facts straight when it comes to employment compliance.  It is easy to get caught up in the discussions in the media and miss the important fact that employment compliance standards, pay rates and conditions are different in every industry and are governed by specific industry Awards.  Operators are encouraged to seek assistance from their industry association in understanding and achieving compliance.” concluded Elisha.

The landmark change to penalty rates in the large and diverse retail industry, while not impacting the downstream petroleum industry at this time, is a positive signal from the Commission, that the Awards can grow and adapt with the changing needs and priorities of the community.