Dominique Lamb CEO National Retail Association

As you are all aware, last week Fair Work Commission President Justice Iain Ross handed down the Commission’s verdict on Sunday penalty rates across a range of industries, including retail and fast food.

The NRA is supportive of this decision on behalf of our members. However we are concerned by the additional level of red tape it has added to the Fast Food Award. We will certainly be seeking your input in coming weeks in relation to how you would like to see the transitional arrangements work and your opinions in relation to the all-inclusive rates mentioned in the decision.

It is important to understand that the Australian labour market has changed dramatically over the past 25 years, and as many of you know workers no longer differentiate between working on a Saturday or a Sunday. By world standards, our rates of pay are rather these generous for work performed on a Sunday pay and Australian retail workers will continue to be well remunerated for working on a Sunday and also on public holidays.

The union movement has predictably reacted to the decision by criticising the decision and calling on elected officials to ensure that the decision does not cut workers’ take-home pay. However, our countries system of law is based on the separation of powers and it is imperative that the judiciary is separate from the legislature.

The Fair Work Commission was established to be an independent body who base their decisions on law, precedent and evidence, without influence from the government of the time. In our view they have upheld their role in this instance, just as they were established to do.

While The Greens have indicated that they will explore legislative options available to block the decision and have called on labor and the crossbench to support any such move. We are of the opinion that they are unlikely to find a valid way to do so at this time.

As mentioned, the NRA is not entirely satisfied with the verdict (albeit for different reasons to the unions and the Greens), however, we do support the independence of the commission and will accept not only this decision, but any future verdicts.

At the NRA we have no problem with the notion of paying workers a fair wage, however, we also believe that there is a direct link between the cost of wages and the ability to hire more workers and giving existing staff more hours. Therefore we believe this decision has the real potential to generate jobs in our sector and we are confident that it could be just the boost your businesses need.

Please feel free to contact me directly in relation to your views on these issues so that we can ensure that we can accurately reflect your voices in our submissions to the Fair Work Commission. We look forward to your views.

Have a wonderful week!

Dominique Lamb