The Struggle Continues to Protect Penalty Rates


Update: Penalty Rate Decision Handed Down

Penalty rates continue to be a hot topic for retail workers across Australia as the anticipated release of the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) review of Sunday penalty rates looms closer.

Despite a recent Essential Media Report showing that an overwhelming majority of voters (81%) support penalty rates, Sunday penalty rates continue to remain on the Turnbull Government’s chopping block.

Not only would this devastate hundreds of thousands of workers who rely on penalty rates every week to make ends meet, it would be a massive blow to the Australian economy pulling over $1.5 billion from regional areas every year1 costing jobs.

The FWC was expected to deliver their decision on Sunday penalty rates earlier in 2016, but it is now unlikely to be handed down until early 2017.

In short, our weekend penalty rates continue to be under threat and no one knows for sure what the Commission’s decision will be.

Throughout this time, the SDA has continued its Protect Penalty Rates campaign, talking to as many everyday Australians as possible, about the importance of penalty rates and the need to protect them.

We’ve been briefing parliamentarians on the devastating effects a cut to penalty rates would have on people and communities and we’ve been getting our supporters to call on the Turnbull Government to stand up for weekend penalty rates, a request they have so far refused.

And you’ve been involved too. With your help, the Fair Work Commission received more than 6,000 submissions telling your stories about exactly how important penalty rates are to you. SDA members sent so many submissions that the FWC simply couldn’t handle any more!

On top of this, more than 6,600 people have signed the petition to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and you’ve sent Employment Minister Michaelia Cash more than 300 emails calling on her to Protect Penalty Rates.

A massive thank you to everybody who has supported the Protect Penalty Rates campaign.

Together, we’ve made our voices heard! We’ll keep on fighting and we know that you will too. Keep up the great work!


The Facts of the Issue

Australians value their weekends and should be fairly rewarded for giving them up to work. Weekend penalty rates are not a luxury; they are what pays the bills and puts food on the table.

Penalty rates are an essential component of income of an estimated 4.6 million Australians. Regional Australia alone will take an economic hit of up to $1.55 billion every year if penalty rates are scrapped.

There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that cutting penalty rates would result in the creation of even one extra job. We know the far more likely outcome is that current workers will simply be forced to work longer hours for less money.

Cutting Sunday penalty rates for retail workers would just be the start. We all know that if Sunday penalty rates are scrapped here, it’s only a matter of time before others are too.

In fact, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously said that cuts to penalty rates are inevitable. What would be next? Cuts to public holiday penalty rates?

We know that retail workers are just the thin edge of the wedge. Pressure would quickly grow for cuts to penalty rates in other industries too, including nurses and emergency service workers.

The only guarantee is that it will take money out of the pockets of hard working families and that’s why it’s more important than ever to stand up for your penalty rates.


Act Today!

There are a number of ways that you can get involved. We recently launched #SundaySelfies on Instagram. Snap a photo of your weekend activities and share to Instagram using the hashtag #SundaySelfies.

Through this campaign we can demonstrate what people are giving up to work on weekends and why they should be fairly rewarded for it.

Check out our website and send a message to Malcolm Turnbull and Michaelia Cash about how important weekend penalty rates are to you and your family and to encourage them to stand up for working families.

Finally, don’t forget to jump onto Facebook and like the Protect Penalty Rates page where you can get the latest information on the campaign.



How Can You Help Protect Penalty Rates?

1. Sign up to the SDA’s campaign website.

2. Ask your family and friends to sign up too – the more supporters we have, the louder our voice will be.

3. Like the Protect Penalty Rates Facebook page at


4. Stay tuned to the campaign and take part in the latest actions.

Together, we can protect our penalty rates. 


Who loses when penalty rates are cut? The economic impact of penalty rate cuts in Australia’s retail and hospitality industries. The McKell Institute Report 2015 p8