Penalty rate numbers don’t add up

PM Malcolm Turnbull says the government will respect the Fair Work Commission’s call on penalty rates. Picture: Kym Smith

NEW modelling shows as few as 285,000 workers will be affected by the Fair Work Commission’s decision to reduce Sunday penalty rates.

It contradicts the Commission’s estimates that up to 615,000 workers could impacted by its decision and Labor’s claims that almost 700,000 people could be affected.

The Employment Department modelling, published in The Australian, includes people who work just one Sunday a year, undermining ­claims that up to 685,000 ­people stood to lose up to $6000 a year.

The data, based on ­established work pattern studies and current employment statistics, suggests that as few as 25 per cent of the 1.14 million workers in that sector under the award or on individual contracts actually worked Sunday shifts.

And even on the outside assumption Sunday work trends had increased about 50 per cent since 2006, fewer than 460,000 workers would potentially be affected.

It comes as the Fair Work Commission has called for submissions on how the penalty rate decision should be implemented.

The Productivity Commission has said it should be delayed by 12 months.

Meanwhile, Liberal backbencher Eric Abetz is urging the Federal Government to make sure no current worker is worse off after the industrial umpire’s decision to cut some penalty rates.

Senator Abetz wants the Fair Work Commission to grandfather wages for existing workers and rule the penalty rate cuts can only apply to new retail, hospitality, and fast food workers.

“The arguments that it is an independent umpire’s decision and that Bill Shorten said he would respect the decision but has changed his mind are all interesting and valid debating points, but they are of cold comfort to our fellow Australians who face the prospect of a cut in their existing wages,” Senator Abetz writes in Fairfax on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Senator Abetz, a former Coalition employment minister, was named as one of the ringleaders of a push to undermine Malcolm Turnbull and get former Prime Minister Tony Abbott back onto the frontbench.

More to come..

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