ARA calls for maximum flexibility for working hours

Posted by Editorial on 1st August 2008

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) will submit its draft modern retail award to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) today, recommending maximum flexibility for working hours and recognising the importance of full-time employees to the sector.Executive Director Richard Evans believes the ARA’s draft retail award has met the needs of the Rudd Government and Minister Gillard’s direction, while still advancing flexibility for retailers. “Since de-regulating trading hours and internationalising product supply, the retail market has changed and now consumers drive the market,” he advised. “A modern retail award must reflect the modern retail market, which requires flexibility and the current award is structured around fixed trading conditions.”

“The ARA’s recommendations recognise full-time employees, supporting the continuation of penalty rates within the context of a seven day – 24 hour trade period,” Mr Evans said. “The previous award was focused on the regulated market of Monday to Friday working weeks. The ARA’s submission also draws upon employee benefit schemes from other sectors to be incorporated in a modern retail award, such as salary sacrificing for superannuation and other modern day needs.”

Mr Evans said that flexibility was pivotal for retailers, but added that protection will still be needed for employees to ensure a small minority of rogue retailers cannot escape their duty of care. “Consumers drive labour rates within retailing and it is imperative retailers have the flexibility required to meet modern consumer demand. However, the ARA does not support rogue retailers who don’t respect their staff or their compliance requirements and our submission maintains adequate protection for employees within the modern retail award,” Evans said.

The ARA report that during the submission process they consulted widely with its members, industry associations and focus groups and enlisted the services of Adelaide University’s Professor Andrew Stewart – who has extensive experience in employment law and workplace relations.