Statement from CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott

The penalty rates system has failed and is out-of-date, forcing many West Australian businesses that open on Sundays and public holidays to lose money, says the State’s peak business body.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia (CCIWA) made the statement in its submission to the Productivity Commission’s review into the Workplace Relations Framework.

CCIWA chief executive officer Deidre Willmott said penalty rates did not have to be abolished but awards should be reviewed based on the relevant circumstances of industries and occupations.

“Our members in the tourism, hospitality and retail industries have been forced to close on weekends and public holidays because paying penalty rates has made operating unprofitable,” Ms Willmott said.

“When these businesses shut it hurts WA consumers, who are left with fewer choices, and employees, who don’t get the chance to earn any income.

“Modern awards should be varied to establish a penalty rates system that reflects the need of the industry and takes into consideration changing community expectations.”

The CCIWA submission also called for the following key areas of industrial relations reform:

  • A National Employment Standard that is simple for small business to understand and provides flexibility as to how the standards are applied in the workplace.
  • Modern Awards that reflect the modern workplace and are simple to use. The 2008/09 award modernisation process reduced the number of awards but retained out-dated provisions.
  • Workplaces should have access to a range of agreement making options that encourage direct engagement between employers and employees to establish agreements that foster productivity.
  • Industrial action should be an option of last resort and not used to pursue excessive demands.
  • Unfair dismissal rules should provide employers clarity as to when a termination is fair and discourage ‘give it a go’ claims.