‘Weekday’ retail award doesn’t cater for weekend shoppers: retailers

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‘Weekday’ retail award doesn’t cater for weekend shoppers: retailers

Changes to the modern Retail Award have reduced the wages bill of retailers but still fail to recognise the demands of modern shoppers, two peak retail bodies said today.

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Changes to the modern Retail Award have reduced the wages bill of retailers but still fail to recognise the demands of modern shoppers, two peak retail bodies said today.
 
Yesterday, FWA announced changes to the award, including extending ordinary hours from 6 pm to 11 pm, and allowing part-time employee to work additional hours without overtime (up to 38 hours a week).
 
However, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and the Retail Traders’ Association of Western Australia (RTAWA) said the major problem was that penalty rates structures are still based on a Monday to Friday working week when weekends are the busiest trading days.
 
Penalised for weekends
 
ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said FWA’s amendments gave relief to retailers who kept their doors open on late nights to meet consumer demand but the Award still penalised retailers for opening on weekends.
 
‘After over 18 months of the ARA representing retailers through every step of the Award Modernisation process, FWA is only just beginning to listen to retail concerns about the modern Retail Award’s inflexibility for retailers to respond to consumer demand without facing archaic penalty rates,’ he said.
 
‘ARA’s application to extend ordinary hours of work from 6 pm to 11 pm has been accepted by FWA, giving retailers the opportunity to remain open for late night shopping without the burden of penalty rates.’
 
‘This is an important step towards recognising retail as a 24/7 industry, driven by consumer demand — but there is still a way to go before the modern Retail Award is truly reflective of the modern retail environment.’
 
Seven-day retailing week
 
‘FWA’s decision to award casual employees the same rate for working on a Sunday as permanent employees, reduced the penalty rate from 225% to 200% and offered retailers minimal relief from increased wage bills but didn’t reflect the seven-day modern retail working week.’
 
RTAWA executive director Wayne Spencer said FWA’s amendments to the Retail Award were the first sign of acknowledgement that the modern Retail Award fails to recognise the truly contemporary and highly flexible world in which retailers need to operate in order to survive.
 
‘The FWA has made some logical concessions based on the RTAWA’s and ARA’s application for amendments to the Modern Retail Award but the major concern for retailers remains — penalty rates structures are still based on a Monday to Friday working week when weekends are the busiest trading days,’ Spender said.
 
‘Archaic’ penalty rates
 
‘The modern consumer is not available during normal trading hours — they are ready to shop on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays and late nights. On one hand, retailers are being pushed to stay open on weekends to meet consumer demand, but on the other hand, they’re being punished for it with an archaic penalty rate structure.’
 
Zimmerman said FWA also accepted ARA’s and RTAWA’s application to allow part-time employees to agree to work additional hours without the payment of overtime unless their hours exceed 38 in the week.
 
‘FWA also approved the ARA and RTAWA application for a “per-shift” special clothing allowance of $1.25 per shift for part-time and casual employees rather than the flat rate of $6.25 per garment per week,’ he said.
 
‘This may seem like a minor adjustment but it is one that could potentially save a small retailer thousands of dollars in wage bills per year,’ Zimmerman said.
 
Union claims rejected
 
Both Zimmerman and Spencer congratulated FWA for rejecting archaic requests from the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA Union), including the call for voluntary work on public holidays and the call to limit the ability for employers to request employees take annual leave.
 
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