Cuts to penalty rates… it’s just the tip of the iceberg

Tuesday 2nd May, 2017

Further analysis shows that nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing, particularly those working in the low-paid aged care sector, are vulnerable to the Fair Work Commission’s crippling cuts to penalty rates.

A report by the Australia Institute released today in conjunction with the ACTU, examined the relevance of penalty rates and weekend work of 2.75 million Australians working across 108 industries and warned that the loss of penalty rates for workers in retail and hospitality were “just the tip of the iceberg”.

It shows the health sector is the second highest employer of weekend workers behind retail and hospitality and warns “If reductions in penalty rates are eventually applied in other sectors of the economy, as seems likely, the economic impact on Australian workers will be severe.”

ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas says it’s yet further evidence that nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing (AIN) at most risk if cuts to Sunday penalty rates are applied across other industries.

“The report states that cuts to penalty rates in retail and hospitality are just the tip of the iceberg. This is what ANMF members have been really concerned about all along, they’re worried they too could lose their awards and entitlements in the future,” Ms Thomas said today.

“Last year, the ANMF’s own analysis detailed how nurses, midwives and AIN’s rely on penalty rates for 20% of their income – it means they would suffer a pay cut of over $1900 a year, if their Sunday penalty rates were reduced to Saturday rates.

“Collectively, that would mean they lose $359 million a year, with a further $3 billion under threat if changes to penalty rates go any further.

“There’s now mounting evidence that confirms the importance of penalty rates for members and how the loss of their entitlements for working on Sundays, public holidays and other unsociable hours away from their families, friends and loved ones, would be economically devastating.

“The Government must heed the warnings of more than 80% of ANMF members who say they will quit nursing and midwifery if they lose their penalty rates.”

The ANMF, with over 259,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia. 

ANMF media inquiries: 0411 254 390.