The Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently announced significant changes for the retail industry, that have come as a surprise to many Australian retailers in the lead up to Christmas.

From 1 November 2018, casual employees engaged under the General Retail Award 2010 will be entitled to an additional 15% pay for all work performed on a Saturday. This is up from the additional 10% when working between 7am – 6pm on a Saturday (plus their casual loading of 25%).

Casuals engaged under the General Retail Award 2010 must also be paid an additional 5% for all work performed after 6pm on weekdays, where previously there was no additional penalty for this time.

By 2020, there are another two scheduled increases to these penalty times (not including the Federal Minimum Wage increases), which will eventually bring the Saturday penalty rate for casual award retail employees to 25%, and the after 6pm penalty to 15%.

The main basis for this change was that the General Retail Award 2010 did not reflect the ‘usual’ practice for calculating these penalties for casual employees.

These changes come on the back of reductions to Sunday penalty rates under this award from July 2017, which will continue to reduce until 1 July 2019, down to 175% of the base pay rate for casual employees.

Heading into the busy Christmas period, many employers are likely to be reviewing their rosters and assessing budgets after a reported slow winter period, due to this unexpected change. Wage costs are an ever-challenging aspect of business for bricks and mortar retailers, who are also competing with the influx of online retailers for every shoppers’ dollar.

If you’re concerned about how these new changes are going to affect your business, have a talk to our Workplace Partners. Our team are experienced in negotiating workplace change and can help you understand what these changes really mean.