Casual Australian retail staff were just handed a 15% pay rise for working Saturdays

Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images
  • Causal retail workers have had some penalty rates increased.
  • The Fair Work Commission decision means casuals working on a Saturday will be paid 150% of the ordinary rate, up from 135%
  • Hundreds of thousands of retail workers will get the rise, phased in to 2020.

Hundreds of thousands of retail workers have won an increase in penalty rates for working on a Saturday and after 6pm Monday to Friday.

Casuals working on a Saturday will be paid 150% of the ordinary rate, up from 135%. After 6pm Monday to Friday, they will also get 15 percentage points extra.

The rate increases approved by the Fair Work Commission will benefit 350,000 casual workers, starting with a five percentage point rise to 140% from November 1. The full rise will apply from March 2020.

The Fair Work Commission last year cut Sunday rates for retail workers to 175% from 200% to be phased in by July 2019.

The latest decision, on an application by the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, was to correct an anomaly between the rates paid to permanent employees and casuals on a Saturday.

Casual workers were paid 10% on top of their 25% casual loading but permanent employees got 25% as well as other benefits including holiday pay.

The commission accepted a submission that the increase “would not have a significant impact on the opportunities for young and disadvantaged job seekers to gain employment”.

The union wanted the full increase to apply immediately.

“This simply affords yet another nine months and more of anomalous financial advantage (at the expense of a workforce already identified as low paid) which the employers have profited,” the union said.

Fair Work didn’t agree and set a phased increase.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said his organisation was “crushed” by the “disastrous decision”, saying it would force retailers to re-think their Christmas trading strategy.

“Retailers usually thrive during the Christmas period, however this year, I’m concerned many retailers will bear the brunt of an unjust and detrimental decision,” he said.

“Casual staff are the lifeblood of the retail industry, and instead of seeing our retailers shine this Christmas, we will see them undertake more pressure and have to make serious decisions about their Christmas trade.”

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