Tuesday, 19 January 2016
By December 2015 the Fair Work Commission’s penalty rates review had generated five days of transcripts and received a large number of submissions from employer groups, unions representing employees and one federal Labor MP, Melissa Price.
This last hearing date in the penalty rates case is scheduled for 15 April 2016.
There will be a good many households in rural and regional Australia where those with paid employment receive penalty rates for working long and/or unsociable hours.
As the two industry groups being targeted are significant employers outside metropolitan areas, perhaps those living in the NSW Northern Rivers region should all be closely watching the Commission at work and the degree to which its final determinations align with the data to which it has access.
The Fair Work Commission in its Changing work patterns report has this to say in December 2015:
This report presented data on changes in the labour market, types of work arrangements and preferences, and how people spend their time outside of work.
The analysis showed that the Australian labour market has changed over the last 25 years.
Although the participation rate for males has fallen over time, it has increased for females, while the decline in male full-time employment has been offset by an increase in part-time employment.
Further, employment in the services industries has increased, along with the proportion of Professionals and Community and personal services workers.
Data from the ABS showed that most employed persons worked Monday to Friday, and five days was the most common number of days worked in all jobs per week, with almost one in three employees usually working weekends.
Focusing on the nature of weekend work, data from the HILDA survey also showed that around one in three employed persons usually worked weekends.
Employed persons who usually worked weekends were more likely to have their working days vary and work a rotating shift or irregular schedule.
They were also more likely to work part-time hours, be employed on a casual basis, prefer to work more hours and be currently enrolled in a course of study for a trade certificate, diploma, degree or other education qualification.
Around one in three employed persons who usually worked weekends were employed in Retail trade or Accommodation and food services.
Employed persons in these industries were more likely to prefer working more hours, taking into account how it would affect income. Data on activities outside of work showed that the total number of minutes per day spent on free time activities decreased between 1997 and 2006 and that almost half of those surveyed never attend religious services.
According to the Fair Work Commission as at June 2014 nationally there were 13,212 accommodation businesses, 35,457 cafes and restaurants, 3,583 catering services, 6,067 pubs, taverns and bars, 2,908 hospitality clubs and 24,035 takeaway food services.
The Fair Work Commission also produced an Industry profile— Accommodation and food services in December 2015:
Data for June to November 2015 show that the industry accounted for: over $80 billion of sales and 2.6 per cent of value added to the economy; 7 per cent of employment, almost 6 per cent of actual hours worked per week in all jobs and over 4 per cent of wages; around 4 per cent of all businesses and 17 per cent of all award-reliant employees; around 1 per cent of investment; around 16 per cent of total underemployment; and around $6.6 billion in company gross operating profit……
Over half of enterprises in Accommodation and food services used shift work arrangements compared with less than one quarter across all industries. The most common shift work arrangements among enterprises in Accommodation and food services were evening and night shifts, short shifts of four hours or less, afternoon shifts and eight-hour shifts.
When the data is broken down: (i) 10.7 per cent of these businesses open on one or both days on a weekend; and (ii) 44.5 per cent of all businesses supplying accommodation and food services are found in rural and regional Australia.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) business profitability tables show that; in the September Quarter 2012 seasonally adjusted total accommodation & food service industry profit-before-tax was $966 million ($1.2 billion in December Quarter 2012), in the same quarter in 2013 it was $844 million ($744 million in December 2013), in September Quarter 2014 it was $1.1 billion ($1.1 billion in December Quarter 2014 ) and, by September Quarter 2015 total profit was still holding at $1.1 billion.
The Fair Work Commission states as at June 2014 there were 130,000 businesses in the retail trade. The highest individual sector percentage of these was clothing retailers at 8.4 per cent, super markets/grocery stores at 7.3 per cent, other specialized food retailing at 4.2 per cent and, electrical/electronic/gas appliance retailing at 3.6 per cent.
The Fair Work Commission published an Industry profile— Retail trade in December 2015:
The highest proportion of enterprises in Retail trade operated seven days a week, followed by weekdays and Saturday, while across all industries, the highest proportion of enterprises operated weekdays only…..
A lower proportion of enterprises in Retail trade used shift work arrangements compared with all industries. The most common shift work arrangements used in both enterprises in Retail trade and across all industries were set rosters and eight-hour shifts.
When it comes to retail businesses: (i) 39.9 per cent operate on one or both days on a weekend; and (ii) 43.6 per cent of are located in rural and regional Australia.
According to the latest available ABS statistical data relating to business profitability; in the September Quarter 2012 seasonally adjusted total retail industry profit-before-tax was $3.2 billion, in the same quarter in 2013 it was $3.3 billion, in September Quarter 2014 it was $3.8 billion and, by September Quarter 2015 these profits had risen to $3.8 billion.