The decision today by the Fair Work Commission to reduce Sunday penalty rates removes an important pricing signal to businesses that reflects the premium Australians place on time with their families, friends, church or community groups, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

“The penalty rates were introduced to reflect the value Australians have always placed on maintaining a healthy work-family balance and provided a discouragement for businesses wishing to take workers away from family time,” ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said.

“For families to flourish, it is important that we do not treat workers as economic commodities but as human beings who contribute to society in many other ways including involvement in churches, sports or other community groups.

“Surely we should incentivise rest, family, friends and worship and recognise our workers as people, not machines for a 24/7 economy,” he said.

“The notion of the week with a distinction between the ordinary working days and a weekly day of rest for refreshment and family time is one of the greatest gifts Judaism and Christianity have given to our society.

“We wander from these timeless truths at our peril. Sunday penalty rates send an important signal that we want to keep at least one day a week free, just to be.

“With many families now needing both parents to be working, weekends are more important than ever for family time. Not adequately compensating those people who miss out on valuable family life is a real tragedy.”