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Changes to penalty rates for casual retail workers

From October 2019, casual retail employees will receive an increased penalty rate for Saturday and evening work.

This is the second stage in increases to the Saturday and evening penalty rates for casual workers (other than shift workers) covered by the General Retail Industry Award 2010.

The increased penalty rates come into effect on Tuesday 1 October 2019 and will affect all businesses who employ casual staff under the General Retail Industry Award 2010.

What are the new rates?

In short, from 1 October 2019 employers will have to pay casual staff more on Saturdays and also on weekdays (Monday to Friday) after 6pm.

  • 135% for evening work (Monday – Friday)
  • 145% for Saturday work

Unsurprisingly, retailers are worried about the impact of increased labour costs on their already tight margins. According to Senior Employment Relations Adviser Alexandra Woods from Australia’s leading workplace relations firm Employsure, says the increasing retail penalty rates are putting extra strain on small business retailers that are constantly being hit with changes. “Small business employers are going into the peak season and increasing consumer demand for longer operating hours before Christmas, and these increased costs add to the list of challenges,” she said.

Woods adds, “Many retailers may now reconsider their plans to hire casuals before the busy wave of Christmas.”

Having witnessed many small businesses frustrated by the repeated penalty rate changes Woods said: “We speak to thousands of small business owners every week who would like to see government and policymakers make less frequent changes to penalty rates and get serious about supporting small business.”

Woods encourages retailers to start getting prepared. “It’s so important to be across these changes now ahead of your busiest period. Check if the new penalty rates changes apply to your business and staff before 1 October 2019. Get the right advice to avoid paying the expensive price of getting it wrong.”

By 2020, casual workers will be entitled to a 25% Saturday penalty rate on top of their withstanding 25% casual loading, bringing their total pay to 150% of the base award rate. Casuals will also be entitled to an extra 15% loading for all work performed after 6pm on weekdays (Monday to Friday).

Source: Employsure

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