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Penalty Rates Case – Upcoming Changes

March 15, 2017


On Thursday 23 February 2017, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) handed down its long-awaited decision on penalty rates (Penalty Rates Case) which will bring changes to the retail and hospitality industries as early as March 2017.

This article sets out the key changes and dates as currently proposed by the FWC.


Modern Awards


The Penalty Rates Case was conducted as part of the FWC’s 4 yearly review of modern awards.  


The Modern Awards dealt with in the Penalty Rates Case were:

• Fast Food Industry Award 2010 (Fast Food Award);

• General Retail Industry Award 2010 (Retail Award);

• Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 (Hospitality Award);

• Pharmacy Industry Award 2010 (Pharmacy Award);

• Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 2010 (Clubs Award);

• Restaurant Industry Award 2010 (Restaurant Award).


Key Figures


The Penalty Rates Case involved:

• 39 days of hearing in 2015 and 2016;

• Evidence given by 143 lay and expert witnesses;

• 128 of those witnesses were required for cross-examination;

• Over 5,900 submissions were received from principal parties, State and Territory Governments,

Church-based organisations, political entities and individual employees and employers.



The decision of the FWC means the following changes will take effect:


Saturday Penalty Rates



Sunday Penalty Rates


Public Holiday Penalty Rates



Early/Late Night Work Loading


The FWC also expressed a view that the Clubs Award could be revoked and that the coverage of the Hospitality Award could be varied so that it covers the class of employers and employees currently covered by the Clubs Award.  Interested parties have been invited to provide submissions on this proposal.


Key Dates




*The FWC expressed provisional views about the form of the transitional arrangements with respect to the Sunday penalty rate reductions.  The above reflects the general proposal put forward by the FWC regarding transitional arrangements, however the transitional arrangements are still yet to be finalised. At this stage, a Hearing is to occur in early May 2017 in regards to transitional arrangements.

Further Information

If you would like further information on the Penalty Rates Case or how it may impact on your business, please contact us. 



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