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Penalty Rates

Penalty Rates in Australia are special rates of pay that some employees are entitled to if they work weekends, public holidays, late nights or early mornings to compensate them for working hours that aren’t considered ‘normal’.

Given the varied nature of contact centres supporting a whole range of industries, there really is no such thing as a ‘normal’ shift with contact centre employees quite often working standard day shifts, afternoon shifts, nightshifts and pretty much every combination of them all!

The history of penalty rates in Australia

Penalty rates were first introduced to Australia in 1947.

The move was encouraged by various unions and state regulatory bodies, who argued that employees deserved a higher pay rate when asked to work outside what was considered normal hours (e.g. 9 am to 5 pm).

The working landscape has changed considerably since then with flexible working arrangements, changing consumer habits (e.g. retail stores open longer) and of course, the impact of COVID.

However, penalty rates remained firmly fixed within Australian society and are seen as a vital form of compensation for employees who work on weekends, public holidays or outside normal working hours.

How much are the penalty rates in Australia?

The applicable penalty rate is typically determined by the employment award or agreement you are under.

Contact Centre employees, for example,  are covered by the Contract Call Centre Award however, that may not be applicable to your particular workplace, so it always pays to check with your Human Resources (HR) team or contact the FairWork Ombudsman for more information.

Check here for a list of all the different awards >

For non-designated shift workers, the following penalty rates are applied:

  • Normal shift – 100%
  • Working outside your normal spread of hours – 125%
  • Saturday – 125%
  • Sunday 7 am to 7 pm – 150%
  • Sunday 12 am to 7 am and 7 pm to 12 am – 175%
  • Public Holiday – 250%

For designated shift workers:

  • Ordinary hours – 100%
  • Afternoon and Night shift – 115%
  • Permanent night shift – 130%
  • Public Holiday – 200%

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