Union to contest Fair Work ruling on minimum hours for student workers

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association is set to appeal a draft ruling by Fair Work Australia that permits schoolchildren to work 90-minute shifts, rather than a minimum of three hours.

While SDA national secretary Joe De Bruyn could not be contacted this morning, he told The Australian the union – alongside the Australian Council of Trade Unions – is seeking an urgent stay.

“The reality is that for decades employers have lived with a three-hour minimum start and never sought to do anything about it,” De Bruyn told the paper.

“By creating this opportunity, it means you have the risk existing adult daytime workers will be finished up an hour and a half early to make way for cheaper schoolkids.

“Now that’s a disgrace if that’s what’s going to be permitted. And this is why this decision opens the way to the exploitation of cheap labour…”

The ACTU said at the time the FWA decision would lead to job losses, or encourage businesses to cut back adult workers’ hours in favour of cheaper teenagers.

But business groups praised the ruling, which stipulates 90-minute shifts will only be permitted for secondary students working between 3pm and 6.30pm, and if parents or guardians agree.

Fair Work Australia vice-president Graeme Watson said at the time the decision might encourage employers to hire more students for after-school work.

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