Federal Court rejects penalty rates challenge … ATO chasing $2.5 billion “tax gap” … Woolworths signs Fair Work deal over trolley collectors

The Federal Court has thrown out a last-ditch challenge from hospitality union United Voice to overturn the Fair Work Commission’s decision to change Sunday penalty loading rates.

The Australian reports the court dismissed the challenge this morning, saying it could not decide on the merits of the Commission’s decision, which was handed down in January.

National secretary of United Voice Jo-anne Schoefield said the decision highlighted that “the wage-setting system has failed to protect some of our country’s lowest paid workers”.

The new Sunday rates across the pharmacy, fast food, retail and hospitality sectors will be rolled out over a three-year period, starting with a five percent cut to hourly rates that commenced this July.

“Small business operators will be relieved at this decision, which levels the playing field in competition against big business,” Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell said of this morning.

Tax office chases billions from “tax gap”

The Australian Taxation Office has released the latest figures on tax revenue that is lost each year because of lack of compliance, confirming there’s still a shortfall of $2.5 billion a year after compliance activities.

“It is normal to have a tax gap. To eliminate all gaps completely would cost more than the additional revenue that would be collected,” the tax office explained in a statement this morning.

However, the ATO says it can further close the gap by using a range of data tracking measures to target avoidance, “including access to a wide range of data, including tax return and accounting records, and third party data.”

Woolworths signs Fair Work deed over trolleys

Supermarket giant Woolworths has entered a proactive compliance deed with the Fair Work Ombudsman, promising to ensure the contractors it uses to provide trolley collection staff pay those workers correctly.

Under the agreement, Woolworths must conduct annual audits of pay records of the contractors it uses to move trolleys, as well as auditing any business that enters a tender for trolley collection work

The ombudsman has been focused on stamping out underpayment of staff performing trolley collection duties for years. Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says she is happy Woolworths have signed on to the deed, highlighting that companies are responsible for ensuring staff are played correctly throughout their supply chains.

“The deed reinforces that while it is primarily the direct employer’s responsibility to ensure its workers are receiving their proper entitlements, in a supply chain the accountability goes all the way to the top,” she said in a statement.

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