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Fair Work Commission considers Fitness Industry Award penalty rate rises

Fair Work Commission considers Fitness Industry Award penalty rate rises
January 3, 2018

Changes being considered by The Fair Work Commission in a review of the Fitness Industry Award (FIA) could see casual staff paid penalty rates of up to 250% for hours worked outside of what is considered ordinary hours.

Currently, the Fair Work Act requires fitness businesses to pay casual staff 130% loading on the casual rate for all hours worked including hours worked outside of what is considered ordinary hours.

Fitness Australia Chief Executive Bill Moore explains “this is a fair and reasonable arrangement for both the casual employee and for your business as it provides certainty for all parties.”

However, the Australian Workers Union (AWU) is now challenging this agreement by demanding that casuals are paid overtime rates the same as full time employees.

As Moore advises “should they be successful in their challenge your business will be paying penalty rates of up to 250% for the same work.”

Currently reviewing the FIA as part of its 2014 Modern Award Review process, the Commission has identified two issues for the Full Bench to consider:

1. If the FIA provides for overtime to be paid to casual employees; and
2. If the FIA does not allow for overtime to be paid to casuals, whether it should do so.

On behalf of the fitness industry, Fitness Australia attended a Directions Hearing on 7th December 2017 and advised that it opposes the AWU’s proposal. Fitness Australia has since notified the Commission that it will be filing additional submissions by 19th January 2018 to support maintaining the current casual rates.

In a communication to stakeholders, Moore advises of Fitness Australia’s ongoing actions, stating "since April 2016 Fitness Australia has spent in excess of $45,000 representing the industry to the Fair Work Commission on the issue of overtime for casuals.

"We have now engaged industrial relations experts Fisher Cartwright Berryman to continue representation as the issue now comes to a head."

Next Steps
The Commission have given all parties until 19th January 2018 to present their submissions. We have briefed Fisher Cartwright Berryman and they are able to complete the submission within this time frame.

Fitness Australia is establishing a Fitness Industry Workplace Relation Policy Committee made up of industry leaders and Fisher Cartwright Berryman personnel to steer this and future matters, and to coordinate the industry’s response to this attack on the current Award.

Fitness Australia is now reaching out to business for your support and feedback, with Moore advising “we need your help to fight this important issue and to represent the needs of your business.”

What fitness businesses and employers need to do
The first submission to the Commission has been estimated by Fisher Cartwright Berryman to cost $12,500 +GST which Fitness Australia is seeking to raise by the end of January. In the event of the AWU putting on further evidence or requiring a hearing on the matter, Fisher Cartwright Berryman estimates costs of $80,000 +GST to produce evidence and to proceed to a full hearing. 

Moore adds "combating the threat from a well-resourced AWU is expensive."

Contribute to the fighting fund
Moore adds “we are seeking contributions to the Fitness Australia advocacy fund to finance this important work.”

Those wishing to support Fitness Australia can help in three ways.

1. Reach out to Joel Perricone – National Manager, Advocacy for more information and to offer feedback on how this threat will impact your business. 
Contact 0431 334 924, E: joel.perricone@fitness.org.au.
2. Contribute to the fitness industry advocacy fund and help fund the fight for the big issues that affect your business. Every dollar is committed to representing your voice on issues such as Music Copyright, Industrial Relations and Fair Trading to name a few. 
Payments should be made to accounts@fitness.org.au and noted as ‘advocacy fund’.
3. Express an interest in being involved in the Fitness Industry Workplace Relations Policy Committee via email to Renae DeVito on email: renae.devito@fitness.org.au

Image: Bill Moore of Fitness Australia.

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