POSITIVE POLICY

Protect Weekend Penalty Rates

Labor believes that penalty rates continue to be a fundamental part of a strong safety net for Australian workers, enabling those in low income and highly casualised industries to share in the nation’s economic prosperity.

Labor understands that penalty rates are not a luxury; they are what pays the bills and puts food on the table for the 4.5 million Australians that rely on them.  

Penalty rates are not only critical to the individuals and their families who rely on them; if you reduce the take home pay of low-paid workers, you reduce the amount they spend, which will negatively impact the economy as a whole.

Hospitality workers are in the bottom 30 per cent of Australian income earners. Along with hospitality and food services, retail has the largest proportion of low paid workers in Australia.

Women make up a disproportionate share of workers in both the retail and hospitality sectors accounting for 55 per cent of all those employed.

Labor understands that for these workers weekend penalty rates are not a luxury, they are what pays the bills and puts food on the table. 

Labor supports workers' weekend penalty rates and will oppose Mr Turnbull's attempts to cut them.

The election of a Shorten Labor Government election will result in a stark change in the direction of the Australian Government regarding penalty rates. 

In Opposition, Labor has already taken the unprecedented step of making a submission to the FWC arguing that penalty rates must not be cut. Labor’s submission is available here.

Labor in Government will intervene in proceedings to make a further submission to the Fair Work Commission (FWC), in favour of retaining penalty rates.

The Commonwealth Government last made a submission in favour of penalty rates during the two-year review of modern awards – when Labor was in power. 

Labor also made changes to the Fair Work Act in 2013 to ensure that the Fair Work Commission took into account the need to provide additional remuneration for employees working outside normal hours, including weekends. 

This is in sharp contrast with the Abbott-Turnbull Government which has made it clear penalty rates should be cut, through the Productivity Commission’s report. 

The difference between Labor and the Liberals couldn’t be more stark.

At a time when we are facing the slowest wages growth in 25 years, Labor supports workers' penalty rates and will oppose Mr Turnbull's attempts to cut them.  

Only Labor will defend workers from attacks on penalty rates.  We will never stop fighting for penalty rates - before and after the decision.