Australia: Employers can offer part-timers extra working hours, but not on overtime basis

The change in policy aims to create more flexibility for employers and more hours for employees.
By: | December 11, 2020

Under the Federal Government’s latest proposed workplace policy, businesses with workers covered by 12 awards in the retail and hospitality sectors are able to offer their staff extra working hours without paying overtime rates, on the condition that a recorded agreement such as a text message exists between the two parties. 

Nevertheless, the usual penalty rates are still applicable and the part-timer needs to be working at least 16 regular hours per week, with a shift period of at least three hours. 

“These reforms are ground-breaking and crucial when it comes to resolving a trio of ills in the current labour market – underemployment, the need for more flexibility and a desire by some employees for more permanent employment,” said Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter.

“The reforms will give businesses the confidence and certainty they need to hire permanent employees rather than focusing on traditionally more flexible forms of employment. 

READ: Australia government rolls out new measure to strengthen causal worker rights

“For employees, it means a higher chance of securing permanent employment, with a guaranteed minimum number of hours, paid leave entitlements and, crucially, more hours of work if they want them.” 

Responding to the new policy, Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus said the new policy does not do enough to discourage the underpaying of workers and they will be worse off. “It’s got to do with the standard of criminal offence. And our understanding is that the standard that’s going to be proposed is one that’s much weaker than already exists in large parts of Australia so it waters down that.”