Sunday penalty rates out

Hospitality: In the hospitality award, the loading for full and part time workers will be reduced from 175% to 150%, while there will be no change for casuals.

"Many of these employees earn just enough to cover weekly living expenses, saving money is hard and unexpected expenses produce considerable financial distress", the commission said in its judgement.

Reaching the same conclusion from the evidence, the Productivity Commission two years ago recommended cutting Sunday penalty rates of 200 per cent in retail and 175 per cent in hospitality down to the same as the Saturday rate of 125 per cent.

Wagga's hospitality, retail, fast food and pharmacy workers will be hit by a reduction in Sunday and public holiday penalty rates, following a decision handed down by the Fair Work Commission this morning.

Public holiday penalty rate for full-time and part-time employees will be reduced from 250 to 225 per cent.

Labor has previously called for the overall take home pay of workers to be protected in the event of a penalty rate cut.

"The Commission's consideration of over 130 lay witnesses and more than 6,000 public submissions demonstrates that all parties have had their positions properly considered", Mr Ward said.

The commission said the reduction in penalty rates should boost employment in the sectors affected, though it could not quantify the boost.

Greens industrial relations spokesman, Adam Bandt, told a media conference on Thursday his party would "legislate to reverse the decision".

Labor has so far supported the independent Fair Work Commission, making it unlikely it would join such a move, but Stewart said the opposition may be open to less radical changes like requiring the commission to grandfather the orders.

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The lower penalty rates are due to start from July 1.

The Sunday penalty rates will still be higher than the rate for working a Saturday.

The debate must now turn to increasing the minimum wages for workers in the retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries to give them a chance to keep their heads above water.

Workers gathered outside the offices of the Fair Work Commission in Melbourne in the lead up to the announcement. No one is arguing that employers shouldn't pay more to attract workers to work on the weekend or at night.

Bathurst RSL Club general manager Peter Sargent said the penalty rate cuts will not impact their staff.

This will hit young people the hardest as research tells us that while a third of Australians rely on regular Sunday shifts as part of their wage, almost 40% of young people rely on penalty rates to survive.

A WODONGA business group welcomes the reduction in Sunday penalty rates, but agrees finding weekend staff could become more hard.

"Store team members at Coles are employed under an enterprise agreement and therefore are unaffected by today's decision", the retail giant said.

She said she had spoken to many employers, especially in rural and regional Australia, "who are unable to open on a Sunday ... they will now be able to be open on a Sunday".

Unions ACT secretary Alex White said when the Grand Final played on Tuesdays and parliament sat on Sundays, Australia would know the culture around weekends had changed.

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