Women take brunt of penalty rate cuts – is this the future for nurses?

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You will have heard that last week the Fair Work Commission decided to lower Sunday and public holiday penalty rates for the Hospitality, Fast Food, Retail and Pharmacy Awards. For the Restaurant Award, Sunday penalties are unchanged but the public holiday rates are cut. Meanwhile, Fair Work left the door open to review the Hair and Beauty Award if an employer takes it on.

As several pointed out, including Caitlin Fitzsimmons in the Sydney Morning Herald, these cuts will disproportionately affect women.

“Everyone knows that most hospitality workers, shop assistants, hairdressers and beauty therapists are women … But it gets worse. Weekend shifts are particularly prevalent for people working in part-time roles and casual jobs. Guess what? Not only are the retail and hospitality industries dominated by part-time and casual employment, but in both cases women are much more likely than men to be working part time.”

So many women are the primary carer for their children but work part-time to supplement the household income by working when their partner is at home to look after the kids – ie at night and on weekends.

These penalty rate cuts don’t apply to nurses and midwives – yet. But aged care and private awards will undoubtedly come under pressure – there have already been attempts by aged care for-profit employers to reduce Sunday penalties when a new EBA is under negotiation.

Are you a woman who only works on weekends or overnight to add to your family income? How would you feel about losing penalty rates? How do you feel about this latest cut to ordinary wages while the Government contemplates a cut to corporate taxes?

Please tell us your story in comments.

Previously on Nurse Uncut:

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