Australia could be about to get a two penalty rate system aimed at differentiating between skilled or essential service workers such as police, nurses and ambulance officers and those less skilled workers like waiters, waitresses and retail workers.
The Australian reports this morning that the Productivity Commission will publish a draft report to the Government today which will recommend this two-tier approach to penalty rates.
The Australian says the government “has been briefed on the proposals, as realistic and achievable, supporting a case for industrial relations reform that it can take to the next election”.
That sets the battle ground with unions, workers and Labor.
At first pass, the proposal makes sense with emergency and other essential workers needing to be compensated for the types of shifts and work they do. But in some ways such an approach also renders moot the usual argument that people’s habits have changed and we live in a 24/7 economy.
Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association national secretary Gerard Dwyer told The Australian that “the government agenda is structured to drive down take-home pay”.
“I would hope that (the Productivity Commission) would see penalty rates as fair compensation for people who work unsociable hours. But I think it will be used (by the government) to further attack the take-home pay for those people on modest incomes.”
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