Principals and agents have reacted with horror at a federal government initiative that would force agents to be paid hours worked outside what it considers standard working hours.
Earlier this week the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) slammed the proposed new remuneration laws. As part of the Fair Work Amendment bill 2013, which is currently being considered, agents could receive payment for working overtime; unsocial, irregular or unpredictable hours; working on weekends or public holidays; or working shifts.
Comments posted on REBonline.com.au were heavily against the proposed new laws.
One person said it would be the consumer that lost in the end.
“Consumers rely on people in real estate sales and property management to be available at times that suit them,” he commented. “Under this scheme it would be commercially unviable to provide the level of service required by tenants, landlords, buyers and sellers that they require.
“This is a service industry and just because the people devising this scheme put their hand out for overtime (our tax money) if they work past 5pm, it does not mean it works in the real world. Imagine if every time a tenant had a leaky tap, locked themselves out or a buyer wanted to talk to a salesperson and view a property on the weekend, the agency principal, landlord or seller was charged overtime! I don't think so!”
Another person questioned whether the changes would undermine the entrepreneurial spirit of the sales agent.
“I am sure that if this question was asked to agents who actually put in the yards and earn the rewards, you wouldn't have the same answers as being produced by some here,” he said. “It is part of the job. You get compensated for your effort and if you don't put in the effort, then you get a salary that probably isn't enough. Get another job.”
Gill Vivian agreed. “Commission-based for the hard work you put in brings you rewards. Stop trying to change what has been working for years - we get paid for our effort - no effort, no pay.”
Michael Dyer felt the changes would undermine the financial viability of some real estate agencies already burdened with high labour costs.
“After 30 years in this industry, I thought the introduction of the new award would solve these problems,” he commented. “Wages, salaries, plus on-costs account for 53 per cent of my turnover. Paying penalties would blow this out. Flexible workplace with hours etc, days/afternoon in lieu of weekend work is more beneficial. Please let the market determine the workplace, not a committee."
Bob, however, argued that the government was on the right track.
“It is the time for change and I agree to the employee being paid for their efforts. Employers have exploited their sales staff for far too long,” he said.
Mrs Hardie commented that too much of the focus was on sales agents, with hard working property managers often overlooked when it came to salaries.
“Let’s try talking about the property managers for a change,” she said. “The wages for these positions are a disgrace, with property managers requiring more and more expertise in law etc and dealing with more aggressive and demanding people.
“They deserve to be paid what they are worth, which does not happen currently. All property manager/officer awards should be raised by no less than five per cent across the board. Sales agents at least get rewarded for working hard in the form of commission.”