Penalty rate decision receives more than 6,000 submissions

THE industrial umpire has received more than 6,000 submissions to its review of hospitality and retail penalty rates and could hand down its decision in the middle of the federal election campaign.

The Fair Work Commission is aiming to release its decision within 12 weeks of its last hearing on April 15, meaning it could come at an uncomfortable time for the Government if it holds a July 2 poll.

Government ministers, still scarred by the 2007 WorkChoices campaign, are at pains to distance themselves from the decision, stressing the commission is independent of the Government.

In December, a government-commissioned review by the Productivity Commission recommended penalty rates on Sundays should be no higher than on Saturdays, given the 24/7 economy and fewer Australians going to church.

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