Sunday and holiday penalty rates to be cut

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The Fair Work Commission has announced reductions in Sunday and public holiday penalty rates in the retail, fast food and hospitality industries, meaning hundreds of thousands of Australian employees are facing pay cuts.

She said the changes would mean workers could lose about $5 an hour.

University of Canberra politics, global relations and law student Jessica O'Neill, who supports herself with a casual hospitality job, said the cut could force her to pick up an extra shift that could prevent her from finishing course work.

It is also likely to come under further pressure to not allow the temporary deficit levy - a three-year income tax hike for the highest paid imposed at the 2014 budget - to lapse as legislated on June 30 this year.

Equalising Saturday and Sunday doesn't have to mean cutting to the lowest common denominator of current Saturday rates.

Full- and part-time hospitality workers will have their Sunday rates reduced from 175 to 150 percent; for fast food workers, it will drop from 150 to 125 percent; in retail, it will drop from 200 to 150 percent for full- and part-time workers, from 200 to 175 percent for casuals.

Across the country, businesses are staffed by casual or part-time workers in retail, fast food, admin.

"With a significant proportion of retail and hospitality workers under the age of 24, this latest decision to cut penalty rates is another example of how young Australians are being disproportionately affected by challenges in the workforce and the growing risk they face in an increasingly flexible workforce".

As stated by the Productivity Commission, penalty rates "frustrate the ambitions of the unemployed" while handicapping businesses eager to capitalise on changing consumer preferences.

As a customer, it's hard to accept that your coffee will cost you more on a Sunday, or public holiday, than any other day of the week, but when you think that the people who serve you that coffee are foregoing time with their own families it's easier to swallow.

The pay cuts take effect from July.

This will hit young people the hardest as research tells us that while a third of Australians rely on regular Sunday shifts as part of their wage, almost 40% of young people rely on penalty rates to survive.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten took to Twitter to criticise the move.

"We have decided that the existing Sunday penalty rates ... do not achieve the modern award objective as they do not provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net".

He rejected government accusations that he, as minister, implemented the review process, saying that was done in 2009 when Julia Gillard was minister.

"The Fair Work Commission in its decision clearly states that they have no intention of this decision flowing on anywhere else", she said.

28-year-old Erin Gibbons, who works as a waitress in Melbourne, told BuzzFeed News she feared the cut will cause uncertainty in the hospitality industry.

Macarthur MPs have weighed in on the decision to slash Sunday and public holiday penalty rates. But unions have resisted any changes, arguing they would just amount to a pay cut for workers.

For workers like Maggie Kowalka, 33, the promise of extra money was a huge factor in wanting to work the unsociable hours on weekends and public holidays.

Penalty rates "frustrate the job aspirations of the unemployed and those who are only available for work on Sunday".

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