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Three-hour minimum shifts upheld

October 14, 2010: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has slammed Fair Work Australia’s decision to maintain the retail award’s minimum three-hour shift requirement.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said retailers would be disappointed and furious they are being denied the right to provide students with the experience that comes from an after-school job.

‘Instead of exercising their right to hand down a “common-sense” ruling to allow casual student employees to work in the two hours between the end of school and close of business, FWA has taken a straitjacket approach to their decision-making,’ he said.

‘This debate has always been about the right for school students to work – nothing more, nothing less. No doubt more young Australians will now lose their jobs simply because they are not able to work for three hour shifts during the week because of school commitments.

‘Despite union attempts to close the door on this issue permanently, the FWA full bench has indicated a fresh application would be considered upon its merits. The ARA will consider its options and the views of its members before committing to a brand new application and submission,’ Zimmerman said.

Currently, over 55 percent 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. A survey of retailers in April indicated that:
– 55 percent of retail respondents said they would stop employing students to work after school as a result of the national three hour minimum shift for casual workers;
– Over 60 percent of retailers who don’t currently employ students said they don’t because they can’t give school students the minimum shift required under the Modern Award.

In March, ARA applied for the new retail award’s three-hour minimum shift to be reduced to two hours, allowing school students to work between the end of school and close of business. The application was rejected in July and the ARA was again heard at an appeal in August.

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