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Govt may target penalty rates

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The federal government wants to change the Australia’s award scheme and has suggested penalty rates could be cut.

A submission to the Fair Work Commission review which was initiated by federal education minister Eric Abetz says that “The Government acknowledges the potential for significant changes to modern awards to occur as a result of this Review.”

It reads - “The government submits that four yearly reviews are to be a comprehensive examination of the minimum terms and conditions of employment in modern awards, and their relevance to modern workplaces. The four yearly reviews are also an opportunity to re-align or dis-amalgamate awards, where necessary.”

According to the government, awards need to take into account economic conditions and job creation should be one of their key focuses.

 “In particular, the Commission should consider the impact of employment costs on employers’ decision to hire workers over the next four years,” the submission reads.

News.com.au reports that the Opposition claims that the Government is pressuring the Fair Work Commission to cut penalty rates and working conditions.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told News.com.au, "Families are already struggling with cost of living pressures from this government - higher health insurance premiums, scrapping the Schoolkids Bonus and flagging a GP Tax."

As the ABC reports, the idea of reviewing awards has the support of Stephen Cartwright from the New South Wales business chamber.

"We think there should be a greater deal of flexibility when it comes to working weekends," he said.

However, Australian Council of Trade Unions spokesman Tim Lyons told the ABC, "This is the Government backing employers by proxy."

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