Retail employers to benefit from proposed part time deal

A DEAL reportedly struck between unions and employer groups, that would allow retail business owners to offer part time workers more shifts without having to pay them overtime, will help generate more profit for businesses if approved by the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

Under the agreement led by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia COSBOA), a part-time employee can be offered extra shifts beyond nine hours per week at their ordinary rate of pay without incurring penalty rates (up to a maximum of 38 hours a week). Currently, part-time workers are entitled to overtime if their boss makes them work beyond their normal contracted hours.

The deal, which will be submitted to the Fair Work Commission, contrasts with the Federal Government’s current proposal to allow part-time employees who work at least 16 hours a week to agree to work additional hours at their ordinary rate of pay subject to other overtime provisions in the relevant award. It also requires a shift be at least three hours long.

“This proposed change, if approved, will help employers keep their current staff on for longer, and eliminate the need to hire additional casual workers to do the same job at a slightly higher rate,” Employsure business partner Emma Dawson said. Employsure is Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor to more than 28,000 small and medium-sized enterprises.

“Currently, employers are hesitant to offer part-time workers more hours due to the overtime payable if a contract variation is not agreed. Along with benefiting the employer, this proposed change will also benefit those part time workers, who may not have previously been given those extra hours as a result.”

If passed by the FWC, the deal will greatly affect retail employers, who have had to carefully pick and choose the number and type of workers they can have on, due to the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The General Retail Industry Award has recently seen its final planned increase to casual weekday evening rates, giving casual workers who work hours after 6PM on Monday to Friday a minimum hour rate of 150 percent (inclusive of casual loading).

Employers looking to avoid paying those more expensive casual wages on a typical late-night shopping night, would be able to ask their current part time staff to work longer, while avoiding the extra penalty rates if the FWC approves the deal.

“Many employers who were hoping to take on extra casuals over the Christmas and summer period simply weren’t able to as a result of those increased penalty rates. Some were also stretched to breaking point due to having to pay overtime to part timers working beyond their contracted hours,” Ms Dawson said.


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