CCIQ and small business applauds sensible and balanced decision

Tuesday 7 March, 2017

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has discussed the significance of the Fair Work Commission decision on penalty rates on ABC Radio Brisbane on Monday.

CCIQ General Manager of Advocacy Kate Whittle spoke with Drive host Emma Griffiths and highlighted responses from Queensland small businesses, who had told the chamber they would be in a position to hire more staff and give longer hours to existing staff if penalty rates were cut.

Listen to Kate's full interview at 5,05pm on March 6 here.

CCIQ also looked at the issue in depth in a recent blog piece. Read it below.

Balanced and sensible decision

The decision by the Fair Work Commission on penalty rates is good news for small business across Queensland, and particularly in regions such as the Far North, Sunshine and Gold Coasts, where industries such as tourism and hospitality thrive.

Ultimately, it means small businesses will be able to employ more workers and give longer hours to existing staff.

It is something the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has been working towards, on behalf of the state’s 410,000 small businesses, for some time and we believe the commission has adopted a common sense and practical approach to penalty rates. It is a solution that works well for employers and employees.

CCIQ has consistently argued for changes to the penalty rate provisions to allow for greater flexibility in businesses that operate outside of standard trading hours – as do many in the tourist-friendly areas.

Businesses have resoundingly told us that they want a workplace relations framework that meets the needs of their contemporary workplaces and positively impacts on their productivity and competitiveness – and penalty rates were a top priority.

Some of our initiatives on penalty rates to help small businesses included:

•             Participated in the four yearly review of modern awards representing small business needs in the hospitality and retail sectors

•             Made several representations to the Fair Work Commission and the Productivity Commission, including providing survey evidence and economic analysis on the impact of penalty rates on Queensland small business

•             Released Workplace Relations Vision and Action Plan detailing a workplace framework that better meets the needs of contemporary workplaces and a modern economy, with a strong focus on penalty rates reform 

•             Worked with the Productivity Commission Secretariat to examine impact of penalty rates on small business

•             Participated in the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Workplace Relations, leading a Queensland Industry Group joint-submission in partnership with Clubs Queensland, FCA, QHA, QTIC, and MTA.

And the outcomes …

•             The Fair Work Commission reduced penalty rates payable in the retail, hospitality, and fast food award that will help SMEs across Queensland cut the cost of employing staff

•             Productivity Commission Inquiry into workplace relations reform released a set of draft changes to the Fair Work Act to bring it more in line with small business realities and expectations

•             CCIQ received extensive reference in the Productivity Commission’s report, with over 60 mentions, and its collated data used for modelling

•             Conducted webinars to representatives from state and federal parliament outlining CCIQ’s vision for a balanced framework that fosters greater flexibility, and improves productivity and competitiveness

•             Appointed to the Queensland Government’s Industrial Relations Reference Group to review Queensland’s industrial relations framework.

CCIQ has extensively surveyed and spoken to thousands of businesses across the state on this issue and we listened.

They told us they were seriously concerned about facing increased global competition with the current penalty rates regime in place; the current system was impacting on their ability to trade profitably, particularly with changing consumer demand; continued increases in wage costs forced businesses to close for longer periods and/or reduce staffing numbers; and that they accepted penalty rates as a legitimate labour cost, however wanted to see alternative approaches for specific industries.

Last week’s decision indicates the commission is now taking a practical approach to penalty rates.

The changes reflect the contemporary 24/7 nature of our economy and will best serve the needs of small business, their employees, and the nation’s economy.

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