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With Easter holidays round the corner, if you’re in the hospitality/retail/pharmacy industries you should pay close attention to your payslips. Look up your award and check current penalty rates against the calculation on your payslips.

In February the Fair Work Commission handed down its long-awaited decision to slash the penalty rates of workers in the hospitality, fast food, restaurant, retail and pharmacy industries.

The ruling could see Sunday and public holiday penalty rates cut by up to 50 per cent.

Slater and Gordon Principal Employment Lawyer Aron Neilson said hundreds of thousands of workers will be affected. The rate cuts are not yet in force but we advise you to pay close attention to the fine print on your payslips.

Important pointers to keep in mind:

  • Cuts to public holiday penalty rates are not due to come into effect until 1 July 2017, so it would be illegal for any employer to reduce their workers’ pay this Easter.
  • Dates for Sunday penalty rate cuts are not expected to be finalised until a hearing in May.
  • Cuts that have already come into effect are changes to loading penalties, which affect workers in the restaurant and fast food industries working overnight shifts. Under the changes:
  1. Restaurant workers will only be paid an extra 15 per cent on shifts between midnight and 6am (previously midnight to 7am).
  2. Fast food workers only get an extra 10 per cent per hour between 10pm and midnight (previously 9pm to midnight).

Which days are actually gazetted public holidays during the Easter weekend?

  • Good Friday and Easter Monday are the only two national public holidays guaranteed by the National Employment Standards in every state and territory across the Easter long weekend.
  • Easter Saturday attracts public holiday rates everywhere except WA and Tasmania, while Easter Sunday is only a gazetted public holiday in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT.

During this period, workers should remember they have rights, regardless of whether they are permanent or casual employees. It can be incredibly intimidating to stand up to an employer and ask them to do the right thing, especially when the issue relates to money.

As an employee in the mentioned industries you should remember that it is a breach of the Fair Work Act for an employer to sack you or stop rostering you for shifts because you raised a concern about your wages.

Furthermore, it is even illegal for your boss to threaten to take any of these steps, so if you think you’re not being paid all of your entitlements or you’re being treated unfairly, it’s important to raise the matter with your union or get legal advice so you’re not on your own.

At this stage, public holiday penalty rate cuts are not due to come into force until 1 July 2017, but that is pending any appeals or variations.

Find out more about Employment Law

The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.

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