Owners feeling the wages pinch, says employer group


an pharmacist holding up a piggy bank employee pharmacist wages money earning funding salary salaries wage

Employsure has welcomed the upcoming penalty rate cut as necessary to reflect the 24/7 economy

The workplace relations firm, which represents close to 20,000 small and medium size businesses, has warned employers to “avoid paying too much or too little from 1 July”.

From 1 July, pharmacy businesses will see a drop in penalty rates following the Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision last year.

This will be the second year of penalty rate changes by removing the variance between Sunday and Saturday rates.

The first round of penalty rate cuts occurred in 2017, which saw Sunday and public holiday work rates drop by 5%. The full penalty rate reduction rollout is expected to be completed by 2020.

Senior Employment Relations Adviser at Employsure Andrew Spiteri said that “Sunday hours are no more ‘unsociable’ than Saturday, which will progressively shift in line”.

“An overwhelming number of employers we have consulted with have reported they would increase employment and operating hours on Sundays and public holidays if penalty rates were reduced,” he said. 

This view was also reflected in Australian Industry Group surveys, which helped inform the FWC in reaching its decision, he said.

Mr Spiteri said that the reduction in penalty rates has helped many small businesses remain trading on Sundays or public holidays, offer more jobs, and increase overall hours worked.

“The small reduction will have a big impact on small businesses in industries operating on thin margins.”

However he was less welcoming of the 3.5% increase in the national minimum wage, which will also come into effect on 1 July.

“Millions of employers, across all industries will need to come up with an extra $24.30 per week per employee, paid at the expense of their bottom line,” he said.

Many small and medium enterprises are frustrated at the increase in wages, Mr Spiteri said, and some have had to adjust their business models.

“Small business employers feel the pinch during the peak season and increasing consumer demand for longer operating hours,” he said.

“Some simply need to reduce their profit targets and take their extra payroll costs from their profits.”

Mr Spiteri encouraged employers to get prepared for the 1 July changes if they are not already.

“It’s so important to be across these changes and check if the new reduced penalty rates in addition to the increased minimum wage applies to your business.

“Get the right advice to avoid paying too much or too little.”

A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild said that the Fair Work Commission’s transitional arrangements for Sunday penalty rates reflect a balanced approach.

“The Guild has accepted the umpire’s original decision as well as the transitional timetable,” the spokesperson said.

“This is a reasonable approach to what is an important long-term structural reform to our labour market.

“This transition will enable community pharmacies to consider opening longer hours on Sundays, providing enhanced access to medicines and pharmacy services for patients, and more job opportunities for their staff.

“The pay rates published in the updated Pharmacy Industry Award are the legal minimum that can be paid – pharmacies may pay over the award minimum if they choose, and many pharmacy owners do in fact pay above award wages.”

 

Union slams cuts

Geoff March, president of Professional Pharmacists Australia, told the AJP that the penalty rates cuts were “outrageous”.

“It is aggravating that many pharmacists are going to have their pay cut again. This time it is a deeper cut and it is going to hurt more.

“Come Sunday do we save fewer lives? Are we supporting the health of fewer Australians? No, but our pay is being cut.”

He praised Chemist Warehouse for protecting penalty rates for existing pharmacists last year. “That is thousands of pharmacists who have more money in their pocket”.

He urged pharmacists to identify employers who did not pass on the penalty rates cuts by registering them on http://businesses4penaltyrates.com.au/.

He also encouraged them to report employers who do cut pay to the union.

“We know the community values pharmacists and does not support the cuts to our pay.”

 

Pharmacy penalty rates

Public holidays

Full-time and part-time employees: From 1 July 2017, full-time and part-time employees get paid 225% of their base pay rate for work on a public holiday.

Casual employees: From 1 July 2017, casual employees get paid 250% of their base pay rate for work on a public holiday. This rate includes their casual loading.

Sunday work

Full-time and part-time employees: Full-time and part-time employees working before 7am and after 9pm continue to get paid 200% of their base pay rate after 1 July 2017. Full-time and part-time employees working from 7am to 9pm get paid the following percentages of their base pay rate.

Effective period

Penalty rate

1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018

195%

1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019

180%

1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020

165%

1 July 2020 onwards

150%

Casual employees: Casual employees working before 7am and after 9pm continue to get paid 225% of their base pay rate after 1 July 2017. This rate includes their casual loading. Casual employees working from 7am to 9pm get paid the following percentages of their base pay rate. These rates include their casual loading.

Effective period

Penalty rate

1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018

220%

1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019

205%

1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020

190%

1 July 2020 onwards

175%

 

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6 Comments

  1. Jarrod McMaugh
    26/06/2018

    While PPA is publishing the details of businesses that don’t pass on the sunday rate cuts, could they also publish the businesses that pay above the award?

    While they are taking making a list of businesses that do pass on the sunday penalty rate cut, could they get the details of how far above the award those businesses currently pay their pharmacists?

    Praising one group for not passing on the pay rate cut last year while also publishing data that shows that this same group has the lowest overall pay rate for pharmacists sends mixed messages.

  2. Willy the chemist
    26/06/2018

    Geoff March, president of PPA praised Chemist Warehouse for protecting penalty rates for existing pharmacists last year.

    Geoff, are you praising the discounter for consistently paying an average of $5/hour less than non-discounters?

    • Paul Sapardanis
      26/06/2018

      Is Geoff March still involved in university and if yes is this a conflict with his position at PPA?

  3. Andrew
    26/06/2018

    >>>“An overwhelming number of employers we have consulted with have reported they would increase employment and operating hours on Sundays and public holidays if penalty rates were reduced,”

    Push polling in the wild.

    Every objective survey (quant and qual) on this has shown that employers large and small report they do not expect to increase manpower due to penalty rate cuts;

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/penalty-rate-cut-fails-to-stimulate-jobs-survey-shows-20171214-h04csj.html
    https://media.uow.edu.au/releases/UOW241671.html
    https://ajp.com.au/news/sunday-rates-cuts-lead-hours-jobs/

    Furthermore there is increasing evidence that paying your staff less means they have less to spend, which harms retail in particular;

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/industrial-relations/penalty-rates-cut-linked-to-stalled-consumer-spending/news-story/66a047c963aca3d959b4144b430194f7

    Try working out how to afford an additional staff member based on this cut – the economics don’t work.

    • pagophilus
      28/06/2018

      It is the middle class who drives the economy through their spending of spare cash. Cut wages and you cut the economy. The rich sitting on money doesn’t drive the economy, it stifles it.

  4. Bryan Soh
    26/06/2018

    “The pay rates published in the updated Pharmacy Industry Award are the legal minimum that can be paid – pharmacies may pay over the award minimum if they choose, and many pharmacy owners do in fact pay above award wages.”

    So my livelihood should be relied solely on the goodwill/mercy of the employer I work for, and not on legal safety nets to ensure that I am properly paid? I seriously hate this line the guild uses over and over again, it just serves to highlight the power imbalance existing between employers and employees in pharmacy. How insulting and patronising.

    It is also such a vague statement. So what if many owners pay above award? There are still a percentage who DON’T. And by above award do you mean 10 cents above? 1 dollar above? 5? It doesn’t change the fact that 10 cents/1 dollar/5 dollars above $27.19 is still pretty piss poor. As if the status quo isn’t bad enough, add this with the penalty rate cuts and non inflation/CPI indexed wages, and employee pharmacists ARE CLEARLY LOSING OUT even more than they already are.

    Senior Employment Relations Adviser at Employsure Andrew Spiteri said that “Sunday hours are no more ‘unsociable’ than Saturday, which will progressively shift in line”.

    Oh really? Then maybe Mr Spiteri, you should start changing your own hours at Employsure to include Saturdays and Sundays. What a load of crap.

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