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Small business win with retail & hospitality penalty rate cuts upheld by Federal Court


Small business owners have scored a win with the Federal Court upholding a Fair Work Commission decision earlier this year to cut penalty rates for hospitality, retail and fast-food workers.

The decision had been challenged by the United Voice, representing hospitality workers and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association representing retail workers.

In its decision earlier today Federal Court Judge Mordy Bromberg said the court's role was restricted to determining whether the commission had made an administrative error.

"The Fair Work Commission alone was vested with the responsibility for assessing all relevant matters and reaching all the conclusions necessary to decide whether or not to make the determinations that it did," he said.

"In the view of the court, the Fair Work Commission's decision read as a whole reveals no jurisdictional error."

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, said small business operators would be relieved at this decision, which levels the playing field in competition against big business.

"Big business and unions have made deals in the past through enterprise agreements which traded penalty rates for union membership and higher base rates," she said.

“Small businesses don’t have the capacity to negotiate enterprise agreements and continue to grapple with the most complex award system in the world.

“People’s lifestyles and expectations have changed over the past 20 years. Fewer people go to church and many people want to work and shop on Sundays and public holidays.

“It’s a shame that unions are running a scare campaign against the penalty rates decision.

“Everyone should respect the decision of the independent umpire; otherwise the integrity of the system is undermined," Ms Carnell said.

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