Penalty rates, hidden compliance costs come out in survey

Source: Grapegrower & Winemaker, May 2015,

A RECENT survey of wine industry employers from across Australia has found the current workplace relations system to be complicated and expensive.

Real-life examples from employers were collected earlier in the year by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) and the South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA) in a bid to
identify the impact of current workplace relation laws.

The move came ahead of an important submission to a national review by the Productivity Commission into Australia’s workplace relations system. As well as finding the current process
complicated with often delayed decisionmaking, employers noted the main sources of compliance costs related to the award system, leave entitlements and termination of employment.

Industry feedback was gathered using an online survey and individuals share their views and experiences in order to give real examples for the case to simplify the system. While the contributors will not be identified in the submission, their experiences will support the comprehensive submission being made to the Productivity Commission, and ultimately to the Australian Government
later this year. Aimed at uncovering hidden costs in the wine industry, the survey also found penalty rates for weekend and public holidays were major costs and caused concern for employers, especially during vintage and for cellar door operations.

The issues led to support for abolishing the Modern Award system and incorporating some of the core award entitlements into the National Employment Standards (NES). The results and feedback will be used by SAWIA as recommendations in their submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry, according to Brian Smedley, SAWIA chief executive.

“So this is a unique opportunity for wine industry employer’s right across the country to have a say on how workplace laws effect our operations and also to suggest ways flexibility and productivity
can be improved,” Smedley said.

“Some areas we know are problematic such as penalty rates and public holidays and we also want to highlight the need to cut red tape and reduce the unnecessary compliance burden on wine businesses.”

More information about the Productivity Commission inquiry can be found at