Retailers who would have shed staff to cope with full wage increases from January 2010 were relieved by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) decision to phase-in increases to wages, casual and part-time loadings, penalty rates and shift allowances at 20 per cent per year from July 2010.
"The ARA congratulates the AIRC for considering the pleas from small retailers who couldn’t cope with abrupt wage bill increases at a time when consumer confidence is still unsteady,” said Australian Retailers Association (ARA) employment relations spokesperson Yvonne Anderson.
"The gradual phase-in of wage bill increases under the new retail award will give small retailers time to accommodate the changes and allow them to concentrate on holding onto staff at a time when job security is a vital ingredient in continuing economic recovery.
"However, there is still a concern the phase-in of weekend penalty rates may only protect retail jobs for the time being by delaying retailers’ decisions to either close their doors on Sundays or cut back on staff who usually work on weekends,” she said.
For small retailers the increased wage bills will eventually begin to outweigh the commercial benefits of meeting consumer demand and of employing workers for Sunday trading.
"This is of particular concern for small retailers in NSW, QLD and ACT where penalty rates for hours worked on Sundays will eventually increase from time and a half to double time under the new award," said Anderson.