After an independent review of the Fair Work Act, Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten is seeking feedback from the states on a proposal to limit penalty rates to 11 Australian public holidays.
States vary in observing public holidays. Western Australia celebrates 11, Tasmania 10, New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory have 13 each, while Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory count 12 each.
Asking for the states' feedback would free the federal government from deciding which public holidays are more important to each jurisdiction, although Mr Shorten maintained that it is committed to penalty rates for work performed on weekends and public holidays.
"Vacant seats at the table and missing barbecue cooks are a reality of modern Australia on public holidays. Australian workers who work on public holidays ought to command our respect and our gratitude," Ninemsn quoted Mr Shorten.
The review was partly prompted by complaints by Australian businesses that high penalty rates are affecting their enterprises, particularly those in the dining and hotel industries.
"Often the people who work these less family friendly hours are among the lowest paid. Penalty rates comprise an important proportion of their salaries," Mr Shorten pointed out.
Assistant Treasure David Bradbury supported Mr Shorten's stand.
"They are not at the sporting events their kids are involved with, they are not spending time at home with their family. It is not unreasonable to think that there should be some compensation paid to employees for giving up time on weekends and hours outside the normal working day," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Mr Bradbury.
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