Let the kids work

Absolute madness. What is the Government thinking? There are a lot of things this government has done that gets me hot under the collar. Don’t even start me on the mess they have made on employee shareholders agreements and the affects this is having on small business.

But one of their most shortsighted and damaging acts has been requiring students to work a minimum of three hours. Yesterday the peak retail industry body, the Australian Retailers Association, said that over 55% of retailers employ school students for short shifts in between the end of school, at approximately 3pm, and close of business, which is typically 5-5.30pm.

Of these, 38% said they would stop employing students to work after school and 17% said they would stop employing students altogether as a result of the national three-hour minimum shift for casual workers.

The ARA plans to present this research at a Fair Work hearing today. Now whether this is an exaggeration or not, the fact that we have any employers laying off students and denying them valuable work experience and funds, because of a change to our labour rules is incredible.

As an employer I always ask Gen Ys fresh out of university about after-school jobs. First I want to see they had the drive to get one. And second I want an insight into how they think. I often ask about that job, what they learnt and if they changed anything for the better. As I said, I am looking for drive, motivation, curiosity and innovative thinkers. And yes, I can tell a little of that by quizzing them about an after-school job.

But another great advantage is that it exposes the Gen Ys to the real world of work. They learn to take orders, understand customer service, learn about processes and quality. And work also gives this generation of spoilt, cocooned socially-wired young people their first taste of real independence as they earn their own money. And let’s face it: any training they can pick up here is training that we don’t have to give them.

But I am not just thinking as an employer. As a mother, I don’t want my kids to work three-hour shifts in their part-time job through the week. It is too long when you take into account school work and sport.

Sure, we need to protect young people from bosses that take advantage of them. But how hard is that? We can introduce a few rules that state that the two-hour minimum applies only to kids under 18 who attend school.

Of course, the unions could not give a hoot about school children. After all, school children are not union members. But employers and parents care. And so should the Government.

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