Dominique Lamb CEO National Retail Association

The NRA has this week led a delegation to meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, and Queensland Senator James McGrath, to discuss the Coalition’s second term agenda, and to further expand on ways to reduce regulatory burdens which reduce business profitability, and in turn, the industry’s ability to grow and create sustainable employment.

Additionally, while the recently-announced delay on a penalty rates ruling is a Fair Work Commission decision only, we also used these meetings to further highlight to the Prime Minister, Treasurer, Employment Minister and Senator, the frustrations such a delay presents to both employers and employees, and the pressing need for an outcome that will enable SMEs to create, rather than reduce, job numbers in this country.

As the retail and services sector is collectively responsible for employing one in every 10 Australians, we have been in the driver’s seat in making the case to the Fair Work Commission on reducing Sunday’s penalty rates from an additional 100%, to be in line with Saturday’s, on an additional 50%, with the full support of a number of industry groups.

In the words of my predecessor and good friend, the Hon Trevor Evans MP, who has committed to continuing our fight as he settles into his new position in Canberra, “Well-intentioned but ill-considered and sometimes poorly-administered regulations are currently strangling these businesses – sometimes to death.”

We cannot afford to take out foot off the accelerator when it comes to fixing a long-outdated awards system that effectively penalises employers for opening when customers most want to shop – a system that has regularly led to small retailers simply walking away from Sunday trade altogether, which is a losing situation for everyone. The SME misses a significant day of trade, shoppers take their dollars elsewhere, and staff who want to work (such as students with after-school commitments and Saturday sport and social commitments for example), lose the shifts that suit them the most.

The FWC has scheduled a special hearing on September 28 after calling for further evidence, a move that is line with recent media reports suggesting a growing support for our case within the Commission, but in the meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts. Please send your feedback by emailing Dominique Lamb.