Bid to reduce restaurant penalty rates fails

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Bid to reduce restaurant penalty rates fails

Weekend penalty rates under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 will remain unchanged following last week’s decision of a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission.

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Weekend penalty rates under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 will remain unchanged following last week’s decision of a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission.

Back in February this year, the Commission decided on a range of cuts to penalty rates in several modern awards as part of its four-yearly review.
 
This decision subsequently became known as the “Penalty Rates Decision”. 

However, the penalty rates in Restaurant Industry Award 2010 were not changed by that decision. 

Restaurant & Catering Australia (a peak body) had sought a simplification of weekend penalty rates by reducing Sunday’s higher penalty rate to the same rate as the lower Saturday penalty rate. 

But the Fair Work Commission was not satisfied in the Penalty Rates Decision that variation of the award penalty rates would meet the modern awards objectives. 

Owing to the four-yearly modern awards review procedure, the FWC was obliged to give the peak body, and any other interested parties, an opportunity to make further representations and to submit more evidence. 

However, in the decision late last week, the Commission upheld the 2017 Penalty Rates Decision and ruled against any further changes to penalty rates in this modern award. 

The Commission took into account that:
  • a previous version of a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission had already ruled that an earlier reduction of Sunday penalty rates, which took place in 2014, was consistent with the objectives of the modern awards system
  • no-one has argued that the 2014 decision was wrongly argued
  • the Full Bench was satisfied in the 2017 Penalty Rates Decision that the peak body had not made a case for varying Sunday penalty rates
  • no further evidence had been presented to justify a change from either of the 2014 or 2017 decisions
  • the peak body had in fact conceded that the current Sunday penalty rates were already consistent with the modern awards objective.
The Commission also held that, as a matter of policy, it will generally follow previous Full bench decisions unless there are good reasons not to do so. 
 
 
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