ACTU president Ged Kearney.
ACTU president Ged Kearney. MICK Tsikasaap

Business urges focus on economy in penalty rates talks

THE chief of one of the nation's top business groups has suggested the Fair Work Commission put more weight on the economic effects of decisions on penalty rates.

As the Productivity Commission examines the future of workplace relations, two leading lobbyists debated the merits of the system in Canberra today.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Kate Carnell told reporters at the National Press Club the Fair Work Commission needed to take more account of youth unemployment and the "state of the economy" in its decisions on penalty rates.

Despite the commission's remit, including the economic effects of its decisions, Ms Carnell said "from time to time they could look at little bit more seriously along some of those lines".

However, Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said there was a need to ensure those forced into working penalty rate shifts were adequately compensated for their work.