Retailers can now employ school students for a minimum 90-minute shift as opposed to three hours, after the Federal Court upheld a Fair Work Australia ruling.
The workplace tribunal ruled secondary students should be able to work a minimum 1.5-hour shift in the retail sector – a move that had the support of small business lobbyist Peter Strong.
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Strong told StartupSmart retailers would no longer be forced to break the rules by failing to give students a three-hour shift.
The industry award indicates a three-hour minimum shift is required unless the worker is of school age.
The decision applies to full-time secondary school students working for retailers between 3pm and 6.30pm on days they normally attend school, subject to certain criteria.
An application by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association to appeal against the tribunal’s decision has been dismissed.
Unions were concerned the change would encourage employers to cut the afternoon shifts of adult workers and replace them with school students working for a lower rate.
According to the Australian Retailers Association, retailers will be relieved by the Federal Court’s decision to uphold the Fair Work Australia ruling.
ARA president Roger Gillespie said in a statement retailers can employ students for a minimum of 1.5 hours, only on school days, during the hours of after school and retail close of business.
Retailers will need to have written consent from both the student employee and their parent or guardian.
“ARA is relieved there will be no further impediments to the commonsense decision finally implemented last October,” Gillespie said.
“The fact that the Federal Court upheld the ruling and chose to implement rather than delay the decision until today’s hearing, is an indication the almost two-year running fight for students’ rights to gain employment has dragged on for too long.”
Gillespie described the decision as a win-win for retailers and students alike.
“Retailers will opt not to employ students at all if they have to pay them for hours they don’t work, so the ruling has allowed students to get a look-in for employment opportunities,” he said.
“Students’ rights are also upheld in the employment agreement given the parameters around the ruling.”
“The outcome is fair, equitable and works in the interests of workplace flexibility and productivity, which is the only way forward if the retail industry is to remain innovative and able to maintain employment levels.”