At the recent AIRC hearing on Wednesday, the Australian Retailers Association has called for a full five year transitional period to be utilised when introducing the new retail award.
As the only retail body representing the retailers at the event, newly appointed ARA executive director Russel Zimmerman, was adamant that retailers could not withstand the introduction of the award at the current time.
“Right now, increased wage bills will simply be unstable for smaller retailers who have said they will shed staff to cope with new laws. They need the full transitional period to stagger the impact of increased wage bills over five years,” said Zimmerman.
“Earlier this month, the Australian Fair Pay Commission made a landmark decision to maintain minimum wages at current levels to protect jobs and support stronger economic recovery. The same rationale must be applied to any increase in wage bills as a result of the modern retail award.”
Zimmerman commented that the AIRC must recognise the effect the implementation would have on retailers.
“The AFPC recognised increased labour costs wouldn’t be absorbed by retail employers who are only just beginning to recover over 12 months of reduced consumer demand. The AIRC must follow this lead when considering the five year phase-in of the average 14 per cent wage bill increase small retailers will face when the modern award is introduced,” he said.
“If the full transition period isn’t utilised, retailers will be faced with three options: further casualisation of the retail workforce, shedding staff and reducing weekend trading. The culmination of these alternatives will result in increased job insecurity and a failure to meet consumer demand.”