A major fashion retailer will finally be forced to pay its workers proper award wages and entitlements.
The change comes as a result of the Fair Work Commission terminating an outdated Enterprise Agreement.
Fashion retailer forced to pay proper wages
Noni B has been paying wages below current retail industry award rates to thousands of staff across its 785 stores for the past five years.
This happened because the retailer has operated under an Enterprise Agreement that expired five years ago – known as a ‘zombie agreement’.
Last year, Noni B took over Speciality Fashion Group brands, including:
- Autograph; and
It currently generates $1 billion in revenue.
The order to terminate the old agreement comes a week after the Commission terminated a similar outdated agreement that allowed pub and restaurant empire The Merivale Group to also pay its staff well below award wages.
How the agreement worked
The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association negotiated the old agreement with SFG in 2011.
The deal allowed the company to pay workers higher weekly rates in return for cuts to penalty rates.
However, the base rate of pay did not keep up with the rate of increases in the award.
Under the old agreement, the company’s 5500 managers and sales assistants did not receive evening rates on weekdays or penalty rates on Saturday.
As a result of the agreement, the retailer had a significant advantage over its competitors.
The termination of the agreement
Unless the Fair Work Commission orders expired agreements terminated or renewed, they remain legal.
Following applications made by individual employees, the Commission ordered Noni B and SFG to move its workforce onto the higher paying award rates by the beginning of March.
“WORKERS RIPPED OFF WITH ZOMBIE AGREEMENTS”
No place for ‘zombie agreements’
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims says all expired ‘zombie agreements’ should be terminated.
“It is 2019, so all workers should be paid in accordance with 2019 award rates, end of story,” he said.
Mr Heffernan urged workers to check their workplace agreements to ensure they are not being paid below their relevant current award.
“It’s thought that thousands of workers, particularly those in hospitality and retail, are still being paid under these dodgy outdated workplace agreements,” he said.
“I encourage everyone to check the details of their employment contracts, and if they find they are paid below award wages, take immediate action.”
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