Labor’s double dipping move an “unreasonable attack” on retail businesses

The Executive Director of the Australian Retailers Association, Russell Zimmerman, has slammed an ALP attempt to disallow a regulation preventing casuals from “double dipping” – claiming paid annual leave after pocketing hourly loadings – saying the move is an “unreasonable attack” on small business.

Speaking after Senator Don Farrell moved a disallowance motion on Wednesday, Mr Zimmerman called it “a disturbing insight into Labor’s view of small business” that betrayed a cavalier disregard for small enterprises.

“Roughly 80% of all businesses employing casuals are small businesses, so it logically follows that if Labor’s motion succeeds those least able to absorb the additional cost would be hit hardest,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Mr Zimmerman said casual employees who had already been paid an hourly premium to reflect their employment status had no legitimate claim to annual leave, for which the premium had already compensated them.

“This may play well at Trades Hall – where employers are deemed ‘rich’ and ‘greedy’ by default – but in the real world, where many businesses struggle but do the right thing, it’s an assault on people’s livelihoods,” he said.

“This is an unreasonable attack on small businesses in both the retail and tourism sectors.”

Mr Zimmerman noted the ALP attempted to move a similar motion prior to its electoral defeat in May.

“Labor’s election agenda was very anti-business. As three-quarters of our members are small enterprises, we’re obliged to oppose its latest attempt to cripple them,” he added.

Mr Zimmerman said his organisation wanted to engage with all political parties, but suggested Labor would find it impossible to gain traction with small retailers if its policies were based on drastically increased wage costs.

Mr Zimmerman said that in addition to retailers, as shadow Tourism minister Senator Farrell’s motion would harm thousands of small businesses in his own portfolio area – something he said almost defied belief.

“We call on the Senator to abandon this motion, and to spend time engaging with small business directly, where he will quickly get a very different view of the trading environment in small retail to the one he currently has,” Mr Zimmerman concluded.

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