Fair Work Australia says yes to after school jobs

Burger flipping may just have slid down the list of after-school work opportunities, thanks to a new ruling by Fair Work Australia that overrules Union objections and will allow retailers to once again offer shifts of work under three hours for students.

Local businesses which want to hire kids for ninety minutes after school have the green light to do so, after Fair Work Australia recommended an adjustment to the Retail Award today.

Changes to the award system brought in under Modern Awards meant that it became all-but-impossible for retailers to offer students shifts shorter than three hours. The Australian Retailers’ Association (ARA) argued against that provision of the award, saying it made it hard for small business to offer kids work after school and arguing that kids and the community would both lose out. The ARA was successful, but the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) appealed to retain a minimum three-hour shift.

But in a decision released today and already available online, Fair Work Australia says it sees no reason to consider the SDA’s appeal and instead proposes to amend Clause 13/4 of the Retail Award so it reads:

“13.4 The minimum daily engagement of a casual is three hours provided that the minimum engagement period for an employee will be one hour and thirty minutes if all of the following circumstances apply:

a) the employee is a full time secondary school student; and

b) the employee is engaged to work between the hours of 3.00 pm and 6.30 pm on a day which they are required to attend school; and

c) the employee agrees to work, and a parent or guardian of the employee agrees to allow the employee to work, a shorter period than 3 hours; and

d) employment for a longer period than the period of the engagement is not possible either because of the operational requirements of the employer or the unavailability of the employee.”

The decision also says Fair Work Australia’s Vice President MJ Lawler believes “I am satisfied that if shorter periods of engagement are available then employers may be more prepared to hire school students after school.”

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman was understandably chuffed by the decision, emitting a press release saying “This is a win- win for students and retailers. Retailers enjoy the community responsibility that comes with giving school students their start in the workforce, the ability to gain an independent income and learn valuable skills beyond the classroom.”

Zimmerman also said he hopes for more renewal of the Retail Award.

“ARA now believes its incumbent on Fair Work Australia and the Federal Government to look at other issues in the retail award including archaic weekend penalty rate structures.”

My Business says

As someone who earned $5 on a Monday afternoon helping the local fruit shop to unload a week’s stock into it’s cool room (which it shared with a pizzeria that lost an awful lot of cheese to my mates and I along the way) it’s hard not to like this decision. We’ve tracked this issue because we feel that working in a small business is almost certainly better for kids than a more process-oriented job. My Business hopes that small business and students see it as an opportunity to grow a new generation of entrepreneurs.

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