Sunday Penalty Rates Slashed: How Will It Affect You?

Sunday Penalty Rates Slashed: How Will It Affect You?

As you’ve doubtlessly heard by now, the Federal Government has agreed to slash Sunday penalty rates for hundreds of thousands of Aussie workers. If you work in hospitality, entertainment or retail you’re probably feeling a bit miffed right now. But how will the changes affect your take-home pay? Here are the answers to all your questions.

Sunday penalty rates: who is affected?

Currently, the decision will only affect hospitality, entertainment, retail, restaurants and cafe workers. According to unions, the decision will affect around 700,000 workers, including some of the lowest paid who need the penalty loading to survive.

How much are Sunday penalty rates being slashed by?

In the hospitality award, the penalty rate for full-time and part-time employees will be reduced from 175 to 150 per cent.

This means someone on the national minimum wage of $17.70 will now make around $212 for an eight hour shift instead of $248 – a difference of around $35 per shift.

Retail workers and those working at pharmacies will see their Sunday double time reduced to 150% of their hourly rate.

According to the ACTU, the new penalty rates will leave some workers worse off by a massive $6000 per year.

Here’s a breakdown of the changes:

  • Retail workers and those working at pharmacies: 150% (down from 200%)
  • Full-time hospitality workers: 150% (down from 175%)
  • Fast food industry: 125% (down from 150%)

Do the new penalty rates apply to full-time, part-time or casual workers?

All of the above. Full-time, part-time and casual workers will have their Sunday penalty rates reduced. The exception is casual employees who work in hospitality – these workers will lose their entitlement but will still be paid at 175 per cent.

Are Saturday penalty rates getting slashed too?

No. Saturday penalty rates will remain unchanged.

What are my current penalty rates

Here are the current penalty rates in Australia:

Why are penalty rates being cut?

According to the Fair Work Commission, the cuts will lead to increased services and trading hours on public holidays and Sundays. As less charitable view is that the change is designed to increase profits for business owners at the expense of their employees.


  • Yes, give small businesses a tax cut and recoup it from the poor bastards who can’t afford not to work on the weekends. Fk’n love this Liberal Government

    • My job demands me (if i want to actually make a good living) to work all sorts of hours and i NEVER get penalty rates. Its the same no matter what. Working a Sunday is part of life now, you’re not special or overworked if you do it. Why these industries demand penalty rates is beyond me.

      • I suspect your boss is ripping you off, you are entitled to minimum wage and penalty rates. Well at least you were before today. I know it’s hard to ask without fear of being sacked, but you really should look up your entitlements.

  • The best joke is that the businesses that are “DOING AT HARD” you have cut the pay of YOUR CUSTOMERS!. weekend loading just start in the last 4yrs? No? so if you have known about them for say 10-20+yrs.

  • Sorry Kikadik but the ignorance you display here is astounding. Leaving aside for a moment the penalty rate cut, your anger at the Liberals is completely misplaced.

    The FWC decided to cut rates. The FWC is an independent body. It was set up by the Labour party. The Labour party set it’s operating rules. The Labour party wrote the Fair Work Act. The Labour party wrote the regulations that determine how Awards have to be determined. The Labour party stacked the Commission with ex Union flunkies.

    Despite all of this, the FWC, which answers the Liberal Government -not at all-, decided cutting penalty rates was the right thing to do. Be angry at the Libs if you want, but perhaps be angry for the things they have done, not the things in which they have nothing at all to do.

    • Now if the greens or labor introduce a legislative(?) to ignore/ reverse the FWC decision, and libs go against it…

    • Bobbitt21564

      If you want to maintain your own credibility, you shouldn’t throw stones about others’ ignorance. The ALP is actually the Australian Labor Party ( no “u”) and has been spelled this way for years.

      And it doesn’t matter who set up the FWC – it’s current decisions and their impact is what is important.

  • The ACTU claim some workers will lose $6k as a result of this decision. The people most impacted by the decision work in retail and will see their Sunday rate go from 200% to 150%, a 25% reduction. To lose $6k they would have to earn $24k from working on just Sunday. I call BS. That’s more than the full aged pension for working one day a week.

  • I work in IT. I work when things fail. I never get paid for after hours work, penalty rate on $0 is still $0.
    My wife works in Retail. She doesn’t get penalty rates for working weekends.
    I don’t see why Sunday should be treated differently to Saturday.

    • If your wife works in retail and doesn’t get penalty rates, it means she gets sales commission instead – that’s the law.

      The people who rely on penalty rates don’t get commission – imagine how much your wife’s salary would be impacted if they decided to remove that?

      • She doesn’t get sales commission.
        It’s a standard salary. A set rate for a set amount of hours and does not matter which days those hours fall on.
        No overtime rate either. Any extra hours get added to lieu time, or hours get cut within the pay period to equal the correct working hours.

        • Most likely the penalty rates are being added to the lieu time – otherwise she isn’t getting paid the mandatory requirements for Australian retail award wage agreements, or even the old obsolete enterprise agreements that cover things like commission which is illegal.

          • It’s been the same at 3 different businesses.
            Do you have a link to where it says it’s mandatory?

  • While it is true that penalty rates are too high an unsustainable bringing them down on its own is not a correct move.

    Some people choose these rates just to make ends meet thus it raises questions:
    1. Are the base wages too low? and
    2. Is the cost of living too high?

    You can considered that both are polar opposites to each other but still should have been considered and bundles as part of the penalty rate reduction.

    First, the base wage; as a counter the weekly base wage should have been raised.

    However there is still the challenge of regulating businesses so they can’t pass on the overhead of higher wages to their goods and services thus pulling the cost of living up.

    Second (obvious but I’ll cover for completeness) is lowering the cost of living. This again means regulation to keep the cost of essential goods and services down so they remain affordable despite the reduction of the penalty rates and companies don’t try to protect the profits by forcing their workers to do their jobs at a lower wage.

    One needs to remember, penalty rates were originally meant to cover the inconvenience if a shift worker/casual has to come in to work at times he or she was not originally rostered on. But over time, the boundaries have been watered down to the point where the penalty rates are handed out too freely thus degrading to the situation we have now where large amounts of reform in many areas or needed to make things sustainable.

    Given the sensitivity, there is where I’m leaving the discussion. I am not entertaining certain rumours about the negative effect of high penalty rates.

  • Penalty rates should only kick in if the person has already done say a 38 hour week with that employer. Why should someone making the choice to work weekend shifts take home the same pay as someone that worked a full week. It is simply not right.

    There are exceptions of course, there are some jobs where the employer is required to work weekends and holiday, but this is easily covered by having a shift worker rate.

    • Penalty rates should only kick in if the person has already done say a 38 hour week with that employer. Why should someone making the choice to work weekend shifts take home the same pay as someone that worked a full week. It is simply not right.

      What? You have got to be kidding.

      I was hoping to avoid this but you have caught my interest now. One rumour I heard was in the automotive industry the weekend pay rate was double time and a half which in turn lead to a culture of casuals stiffing the week and then rushing to put their hands up for the weekend.

      • We are a society that expects shops to be open on weekends now days (25+ years ago this was not the case in Australia but was in many other countries already). I say scarp weekend rates all together… it’s just another day really.. nothing special.. I work Monday to Saturday and happy to get rid of penalty rates.. not too sure why they are still around…

        Australia already has the most generous minimum wages in the developed world… cost of living is high though and I wish something would be done about that rather…

        • cost of living is high though and I wish something would be done about that rather

          That’s the concern I had which has come true; the rates have been scrapped on their own without addressing the surrounding issues.

          And just look at any student; textbooks are just a shame with new yearly editions with one time codes that expire (even when not used) at the year’s end. In some cases they expire at the end of the semester.

          While I don’t agree that penalty rates should be scrapped altogether, I still say the conditions they be awarded be tightened so they are not handed out so freely.

  • Scrap the penalty rates totally and increase the minimum wages. I’ve said this before but I worked for a restaurant that did this for us (Yes, it was illegal) and it worked out excellent. He had the exact same thinking that the FWC basically has in this decision. He got rid of penalties so he was no longer stressing about having enough staff on Weekends which were our busiest time, no longer trying to get people in at the last minute when the restaurant got busy or trying to send them home as soon as possible and no longer having staff feeling left out when they didn’t or weren’t able to get the “better shifts” .

    In the end we were able to provide far better service levels and earn the same amount of money for the same hours which kept our customers coming back and helped keep the restaurant making good money!

    As I said, it was illegal, but it was amazing and not one of us would ever have reported it!

  • Sunday pay was a rort anyway. I’ll have sympathy when they cut after-hours rates, but not Sunday rates.

    Look at that table. The penalty rate for working midnight to 5am on a weekday was 115% but Sunday was 175%?! What sort of BS is that!

    Penalty Rates need to protect people from being forced to do awful shifts (by rewarding those who do). Awful shifts that police, nurses and hospitality workers have to fill every evening and every night. But let’s call a spade a spade – 9am to 5pm on Sunday is just another day. It never deserved 1.75x wage loading, nor anything like it. People who are pissy about the abolition of this rate should be called out for what they are: shift-bludgers. Bludgers who’ve just lost their lucrative rort which was always at the expense of their colleagues on nights and evenings. How anyone can defend 175% on Sunday but only 115% for midnight to 5am on a weekday is beyond me.
    Given that 92% of Australians choose not to attend Church on Sunday, I don’t think businesses will have too much trouble filing these shifts when they’re offered at 125% of the normal daily rate.
    The real crime here is that Sunday still garners a better penalty than evenings and nights, so these shift-bludgers will still be first-in with their dibs on the easy-going Sunday day-shift.

  • its us selfish bastards that require people to work on weekends, so we can shop. Wouldn’t life be better when we just work M-F and enjoyed the weekends with friends and family.

  • Jumped straight to the comments, expecting the “I don’t get penalty rates in my line of work, so suck it up!” statements.

    Wasn’t disappointed.

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