“We need to find common ground on loaded rates and reach a position that works for both employers and their workers, ensuring our small businesses don’t simply survive, but thrive.”
Small-business owners across Australia are being invited to join a national conversation on a proposal to develop a “loaded rates” schedule that provides higher hourly rates of pay for employees in lieu of penalty rates within the retail and fast-food awards.
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Ms Kate Carnell has launched a small-business consultation period to encourage debate on the idea.
Carnell acknowledged that while the proposal, put forward recently by Fair Work Commission president Mr Iain Ross, will be explored formally next year, it’s a concept worthy of ongoing and sensible discussion.
“Few can argue that there’s certainly a need for greater hiring flexibility for small-business owners particularly when it comes to weekend staffing,” Carnell said.
“By raising the idea of increasing hourly rates in lieu of penalty rates, Iain Ross has started an important conversation and it’s one I want small business people to be a part of. On face value, this idea certainly has merit; obviously the details will matter, but we need to remove the complexity in the system and create flexibility for employers to structure their business in a way that maximises its potential, and this idea has the capacity to do just that,” said Carnell.
“As a small business advocate, it’s my job to listen to what small business owners are thinking about any given issue, and to create a means of allowing them to have their voice heard. This issue is close to the hearts of most – if not all small businesses – and I’m sure each and every one of them has an opinion on this,” she said.
Carnell said the ASBFEO is now taking feedback from small business on its website.
“Basically I’m interested to hear from small businesses about their views on things such as will the measure allow them to operate longer hours on weekends; will it allow them to take on more workers; do they think their employees will embrace the idea; what are other alternatives in their view; should it be limited to the retail and fast-food sectors or should it be across the board; has it worked in the hospitality sector; that sort of thing,” Carnell said.
“Over the coming weeks and months I’ll gather this feedback – which can be provided anonymously if preferred – and present it to the Fair Work Commission to better inform the anticipated discussions on the issue, ensuring the voice of small business is heard in this debate,” she said.
“I welcome the opportunity to have a sensible discussion about this issue; we need to find common ground on this and reach a position that works for both employers and their workers, ensuring our small businesses don’t simply survive, but thrive,” Carnell said.
To join the conversation visit www.asbfeo.gov.au/consultation
Inside Small Business