The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has applauded Minister Julia Gillard for recommending changes to the draft modern retail award and encouraging measures to avoid it being implemented too rapidly.
ARA employment relations spokesperson Yvonne Anderson said while there was an assumption in the draft retail award that retailers were mass employers, the reality was that small retailers were central to local economies and increases to wage bills from January 1 next year would force them to shed staff.
As the only retail body at the transitional hearings for the new award in June, the ARA called for the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) to make use of the full five year transition period to the new awards regime. Anderson said the ARA was pleased Minister Gillard had echoed its sentiments.
“Under the new retail award, small retailers would face increased wage bills of up to 16.5 percent or over $28,000 at a time when they are still recovering from over 12 months of reduced trade and dampened consumer confidence. Although it will only postpone imminent wage increases for small retailers, a five year transitional period will allow retailers to accommodate these increases over time.
“The ARA also welcomes proposed changes to part-time hours provisions that provide greater flexibility for the many small retailers who employ part-time workers. Greater flexibility in how small retailers can employ part-time employees under the new award will benefit women returning to work after having children,” Anderson said.