How does Australia’s employee award system affect you?

With a review of Australia’s employee award system underway by the Fair Work Commission (FWC), your regional representatives want to hear directly from you to assess whether penalty rates are still relevant.

Member for Durack Melissa Price and Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson are calling for all business owners, industry representatives and interested community members to submit their views.

Ms Price said many shops in Western Australia, particularly in regional areas, remain closed on Sunday’s despite extended trading hours being introduced in August last year.

“The purpose of this regional enquiry by Rick and I, is to determine how the employees’ award system affects small business owners and young workers in particular, and to seek any suggestions for change to improve the current system,” Ms Price said.

“Although it is understandable that low paid workers would welcome the payment of penalty rates on weekends and public holidays, if these higher rates make businesses unviable to open on those days, no one earns any money.”

According to research and advocacy group the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the rate of youth unemployment has been on the rise over the past two years, with regions in the Durack and O’Connor Electorates having the highest rates in the State, with 8.5% in the North-West, 10% in the North-East and 11% in the Wheatbelt.

“It is important that Australia is able to find a balance between ensuring small businesses remain viable and are able to service the public, and providing a fair rate for employees who work outside ‘normal’ hours,” Ms Price said.

Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson said this was a long-standing issue for young people and small business owners in country areas.

“There is growing evidence that penalty rates are leading to small businesses not opening on weekends,” Mr Wilson said.

“This is particularly evident in areas of the electorate dependent on tourism.

“The lack of weekend work makes it difficult for young people, especially those in gap years, who are struggling to find opportunities to earn enough to satisfy Youth Allowance requirements.”

All submissions are welcome. Please send your submission to Ms Price’s Geraldton Electorate Office, 2B/209 Foreshore Drive, Geraldton WA 6530.