Penalty cuts: Horsham businesses support Broad's calls

HORSHAM businesses have backed Nationals Member for Mallee Andrew Broad's call for cuts to penalty rates.

Business Horsham chairwoman Andrea Cross, who is standing for Nationals pre-selection for the state seat of Lowan, said the group surveyed businesses after Mr Broad's statement last week.

Mrs Cross said many businesses surveyed felt removing penalty rates would lead to more jobs.

"A lot of businesses trade seven days so penalty rates should be dropped, which would effectively mean that an employee would still work five days a week from Friday to Tuesday and so on," she said.

"Their opinion was that if penalty rates ceased, more people would be employed."

The survey collated responses from 12 Horsham businesses. Mrs Cross said many found it difficult to employ staff on weekends because of penalty rates.

"Most small businesses who choose to open on the weekends tend to be staffed by owners and members of their families because they cannot afford the penalty rates," she said.

Businesses surveyed said Sundays and public holidays were not prime business days in rural and regional areas.

Despite this, chain stores with Horsham outlets were expected to trade seven days a week to fall in line with company policy.

Mrs Cross said businesses had highlighted challenges faced by operating in a regional environment.

"One business said there were many elements to small regional business success," she said. "These include skills of the proprietor, preparedness to properly train staff, recognising the efforts of staff, rewarding staff fairly, treating employment benefits as an investment not as a cost and providing high-quality customer service."

Last week Mr Broad said wage balance was too far in favour of employees.

But not all business managers supported cuts to penalty wages.

Mr Broad's comments prompted a large response from Mail-Times readers, with many calling for him and his parliamentary colleagues to take a pay cut.

Waack's Bakery Horsham manager Michelle Benson responded on Facebook to the Mail-Times' initial story with support for current wage structures.

"Penalty rates are the only reason I can get staff to work weekends and public holidays," she said.

"These rates help to increase my weekly pay packet because of already-low rates."

The Productivity Commission review into the workplace relations framework will hand down its final report in April 2015.

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