ACT workers would lose $527,000 over Easter long-weekend under proposed penalty rates cuts

Modelling by the Australian Council of Trade Unions has cost of penalty rates cuts for minimum-wage workers in the ACT as a result of the proposed cuts to penalty rates.

ACT workers in the retail, hospitality and fast food industries would have their wages decreased by $527,000 over the Easter Long-Weekend. Australia-wide, this reduction in wages would exceed $10 million.

The proposed reduction in penalty rates, which are supported by Federal Liberal government, would reduce Sunday penalty rates, and public holiday penalty rates for workers in retail, hospitality, fast food and pharmacies.

Penalty rates for public holidays for retail, hospitality, fast food and pharmacy workers would be reduced by 25 percent. The reduction in wages of $527,000 for ACT workers would be for workers under the affected Awards for Sundays and public holidays. Easter Sunday was recently added as a public holiday in the ACT.

Public opinion polling commissioned by UnionsACT has found that 80 percent of Canberrans support weekend penalty rates.

The following quotes are attributable to Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT:

“The impact of these cruel penalty rates cuts for vulnerable, minimum-wage workers in Canberra is enormous.

“Working people in the ACT would lose half a million dollars over Easter in reduced wages due to the proposed penalty rates cuts.

“The proposed penalty rates cuts are not just for Sundays. They also affect public holidays too.

“The people who are working over Easter don’t deserve a wage cut, and they certainly can’t afford it.

“The vast majority of Canberrans support penalty rates, and do not want them to be cut. Unfortunately the Federal Government has decided to support a wage cut for the lowest paid workers in our community.”


  • Assumes standard 8 hours working day for each public holiday over the long weekend.
  • As most business are generally closed Good Friday, typically with the exception of fast-food outlets, Good Friday has been included in the calculations as a fraction of a public holiday, proportional with the percentage of all affected workers that fast food workers represent.
  • Worker is assumed to be low-level non-managerial. This means this may be a conservative estimate.
  • As the decision only affected level 1 Fast Food staff, the proportion of workers on that award that are at Level One was assumed to be 90%. Non-level 1 staff were not included
  • As the decision only affected permanent staff in Hospitality, casual staff were removed from the workforce number for that award using the % of food service and accommodation workers who do not have paid leave entitlements according to ABS Characteristics of Employment August 2015 (CAT 6333.0). Casual and part-time staff were assumed to be evenly award-reliant.
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