How the Fair Work Commission's Decision on Penalty Rates Will Affect You

This afternoon the Fair Work Commission made a decision to cut penalty rates for workers in the retail, hospitality and fast food sectors. The controversial decision will see significant reductions in Sunday and public holiday rates across the industries, leaving many students and self-supporting young people devastated.
For those working in hospitality, full time and part time workers will see Sunday rates reduced from 175% to 150% of base rate. In retail, full time and part time workers’ Sunday rates are to drop from 200% to 150%, while casuals’ penalty rates will drop from 200% to 175%. Meanwhile, full time and part time workers will see public holiday rates drop from 225% to 200%. In the fast food sectors, full time and part time staff rates will see a drop from 150% of base rate to 125%.
The decision is poised to have a dramatic effect on the lives of students. Student Representative Council President Isabella Brook says that the SRC’s main concern is regarding students’ ability to support themselves throughout their degrees.
“A lot of students are working on weekends so that they can balance work and Uni, so this decision will have a drastic effect on their ability to earn money while receiving an education,” she said.
University of Sydney student Cameron Gooley has been relying on his penalty rates to help support himself, and considers the decision to be an unnecessary attack on young, self-reliant workers.
“Sunday penalty rates are the difference between being able to pay for rent and being $50-$100 short, which a lot of people don't understand when they aren't actually supporting themselves.”
“There's a difference between a small business not making a fantastic profit and a worker who can't afford food, opal and rent as it is. One is about survival, the other is just about additional disposable income.”
Combatting the costs and consequences of the Fair Work Commission’s decision will be a difficult ordeal for young students, but SRC President Isabella Brook is reminding students that they do have support networks available to them.
“Firstly, join your workplace union to protect your rights at work. On top of that, if you’re having any issues regarding your work and study balance, come and talk to an SRC caseworker who can provide you with some support and advice on any of the attacks and issues you might be facing.”
You can contact the SRC on 9660 5222, or visit

Pulp Editors