We'll all be better off if the Productivity Commission's report receives proper debate and challenge. It just might be one of the first steps to Australia maintaining relevance in a global economy. We have to acknowledge that individual retail workers used to Sunday penalty rates would be worse off if these were aligned with Saturday penalty rates (ie. generally be "time and a half" rather than "double time"). And individual retail store owners would be better off if their Sunday wages bill was cut by 25%....and it might encourage more stores to open on a Sunday.
But there's a bigger picture at play here - how does Australian retail with a very high overall cost base (wages, rents, taxes etc) remain relevant (I'm not even thinking "competitive") in a world where people can easily access cheaper goods online from overseas? And pricing differentials are usually much higher than the amount of GST imposed on the local retailers. Makes me think that tackling the Sunday penalty rates is only a first step on an easy target, where what we really need is fundamental economic reforms.
Australia’s Workplace Relations Framework report from the Productivity Commission has recommended Sunday penalty rates for cafes, hospitality, entertainment, restaurants and retailing should be aligned with Saturday rates. Both days of the weekend should be treated equally in response to changing social norms around shopping hours. It predicts employment and hours worked on Sundays would rise if the change is adopted, in particular, for more experienced employees, who currently have a particularly high hourly rate. The National Retail Association (NRA) strongly backed the Productivity Commission’s recommendations. NRA CEO, Trevor Evans, said it was also becoming increasingly difficult for business owners to compete with online shopping, where penalty rates and often basic labour standards did not apply. The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) also approved the Productivity Commission’s move to open up discussion on penalty rates.