Pharmacy workers could see their pay being cut in a matter of weeks, following the Fair Work Commission’s decision on phasing-in dates
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) – as well as other unions including United Voice, which represents hospitality workers – have announced that they are filing an appeal against the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut penalty rates.
The Commission has decided to phase in cuts to Sunday penalty rates from 1 July 2017 as follows:
Retail and Pharmacy Awards: full-time and part-time employees
1 July 2017 from 200% to 195%
1 July 2018 from 195% to 180%
1 July 2019 from 180% to 165%
1 July 2020 from 165% to 150%
The Commission noted in its decision that, “the SDA, United Voice and the ACTU all proposed that the implementation of the reductions for Sunday penalty rates in Hospitality, Fast Food, Retail and Pharmacy Awards be delayed by a period of two years”.
“APESMA [Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia] submitted that the implementation of the reductions in Sunday penalty rates in the Pharmacy Award should be delayed for four years.
“The various employer organisations opposed the imposition of a delay in the implementation of the Penalty Rates decision,” the FWC noted.
“The Full Bench was not persuaded that it was appropriate to impose any further delay in the implementation of the Penalty Rates decision.”
The Full Bench also said, “…we are not persuaded that it is appropriate to impose any further delay in the implementation of the Penalty Rates decision.
“However, we recognise that commencing the implementation of the transition to the new Sunday rates on 1 July 2017 will mean that the affected employees will have had only about four months’ notice of the changes.”
The SDA says that “retail, fast food and pharmacy workers covered by Awards stand to lose up to $6,000 per year because of this decision.
“The SDA is now filing an appeal of the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut penalty rates to stop cuts to your take-home pay. We will be seeking an appeal to prevent any reduction occurring this year.”
A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild said the organisation accepted the umpire’s decision.
“The Fair Work Commission’s transitional arrangements for Sunday penalty rates reflect a balanced approach and are a reasonable outcome.
“As advocates for pharmacy small businesses, the Guild had sought a shorter transition period with two stages, July 2017 and July 2018.
“It is clear the Commission has weighed the evidence and submissions and taken a conservative, balanced approach to the transition to cushion the impact of the penalty rate reductions by spreading them over a prolonged period.
“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.”
PPA says it will continue to lobby politicians to legislate to restore the current existing penalties.
“We will continue to campaign with pharmacy owners to remind them that they don’t have to apply this Decision and that they should continue to pay existing penalties to their employee pharmacists.”