Ballarat hairdressers angry about Hair and Beauty Association submission to cut penalty rates

Deep cut: Ballarat hairdresser Sasha Strange said the proposed penalty rate cuts would make it harder for her to pay bills and buy a house. Picture: Ashleigh McMillan

Deep cut: Ballarat hairdresser Sasha Strange said the proposed penalty rate cuts would make it harder for her to pay bills and buy a house. Picture: Ashleigh McMillan

Ballarat hairdressers are angry about a potential cut in the penalty rates, as a national beauty association calls for reduced weekend and public holiday pay

As further wage reductions came into force on July 1 for the retail and hospitality, with the fast food industry Sunday penalty rates falling from 145 per cent to 135 per cent, eyes are now turning to other industries. 

In a submission to the Fair Work Commission, the Hair and Beauty Association (HABA) called for a public holiday penalty rate cut from 250 per cent to 225 per cent for full-time employees, and a Sunday rate drop from 200 to 150 per cent. 

As a hairdresser, Sasha Strange has worked to help others look and feel their best for more than ten years, and is currently employed at Hairhouse Warehouse in Stockland Wendouree. 

In a role that is “more therapy than a haircut sometimes”, Ms Strange said she felt “very angry” about the potential cut to her wages, devaluing her work and putting her home ownership dreams in jeopardy. 

“I’m looking at buying a house eventually, and get trying to get ahead and ultimately make life easier for myself,” she said. 

Without having that extra weekend money, it will definitely make things harder to afford and to keep on top of bills.

Ballarat hairdresser Sasha Strange

“You think you’ll be in a good job where you can afford to buy a house and do well for yourself, but it might be better working in anything else, I guess, where you can get paid more unfortunately.

“It just makes a joke out of people going through the process of going through apprenticeships and training colleges, and not getting rewarded at the end. It devalues our profession."

Making the FWC submission on behalf of HABA, Ai Group Workplace Lawyers chief executive Innes Willox said in March there were “obvious similarities” between hair, retail and hospitality. 

She said with all businesses selling to consumers, similar locations and opening hours, penalty rates “need to be adjusted”.

“The existing penalty rates are no longer fair or relevant in contemporary workplaces,” Ms Willox said.

From July 1, Sunday penalty rates for retail workers will fall from 195 per cent to 180 per cent on July 1, meaning the Sunday minimum wage will fall from $40.54 an hour to $37.42 an hour.

HABA were contacted for comment, but did not respond by deadline.