Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 March 2017) . . Page.. 794 ..
MS ORR: Minister, you noted that nearly 40 per cent of young people rely on penalty rates to survive. What will cuts to penalty rates mean for these young people in Canberra?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: The loss of this additional pay will hurt thousands of young Canberrans working in retail, as I have previously mentioned. By seeing their Sunday penalty rates drop from $38.88 an hour to $29.16 an hour, young retail workers who work the minimum three hours on Sunday—a minimum of three hours—will need to pick up an extra hour’s work to make up for the lost pay, in order to maintain their current wage. For those who work the maximum nine-hour day, they will need an extra three-hour shift to make up the difference.
Modelling by the McKell Institute showed just how dramatic the reduction in take-home pay will be for workers. The modelling shows that full-time or part-time retail workers who work a full eight-hour shift, for example, will lose at least $72.90 a week. Annually, this equates to a loss of $3,499. Indeed, this impact on workers was recognised by the President of the Fair Work Commission in handing down his decision, who said:
The immediate implementation of the variations to Sunday penalty rates would inevitably cause some hardship to the employees affected, particularly those who work on Sundays.
For a young part-time retail worker who earns $30,000 a year, the changes could result in a loss of up to 11 per cent of their annual income. University of Canberra student Jessica O’Neill, who supports herself with a casual hospitality job, said that the cut could force her to pick up an extra shift which could prevent her from finishing her course work. She makes $550 a week, including $250 that she makes on a Sunday, but the penalty rate cut might force her to seek an extra weekday shift to make ends meet.
On this side of the chamber we understand that this has a significant impact on young workers’ take-home pay and their decision to work unsociable hours. This is why we strongly disagree with the Fair Work Commission’s decision.
MS CHEYNE: Minister, what impact does working unsociable hours have on the lives of young people?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Cheyne for her supplementary question. Anyone who has worked on Sundays knows that working these unsociable hours does have a real impact on social lives, on the ability to engage in family life and overall health. Community, sporting and social events are often held on Sunday. I certainly know that that is the case in my own sport.
While young people might be able to catch up with some areas of their social life outside a weekend, their parents and older family members are likely to work during the week, making it difficult for them to spend time together as a family. While Sunday is not a religious day for most young Australians, research consistently finds