Fact sheet

Fact Check: Have 700,000 of the poorest-paid people received an effective pay cut?

Australian Labor Party Low-wage industries Minimum wage Penalty rates

In February 2017, the Fair Work Commission decided to reduce minimum Sunday and public holiday rates for some award workers in the retail, pharmacy and hospitality industries. The cuts began on July 1, 2017. The Opposition spokeswoman for justice Clare O'Neil said the penalty rate cut would amount to 700,000 of the poorest-paid people in the country effectively taking a pay cut. RMIT ABC Fact Check found Ms O'Neil's claim was fanciful, 700,000 people did not get an effective pay cut. The figure is based on an estimate, prepared by a think tank, of the number of people who work under the affected awards. It does not take into account how many of these people actually do or can work on a Sunday. Even people who work for an employer that never opens on a Sunday are included in the 700,000 number. And the 700,000 estimate itself may overstate the number of people on awards affected by changes to penalty rates. However, Ms O'Neil was on stronger ground when she describes award workers as "poorest-paid".
Verdict: Fanciful

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