Ruling good for business

BALLINA teenager Amelia Perris works around 10 hours a week at Woolworths and most of her friends also work in retail.

Working was important to earn pocket-money, learn new skills and prepare for their adult life ahead, the 16-year-old said.

"If we just left school and joined the workplace for the first time we'd get a real shock," she said.

Amelia and Northern Rivers business groups have welcomed a Federal Court of Australia decision to let young people work less than three-hour shifts after school in shops.

On Friday, Justice Richard Tracey rejected an application by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association which wanted the court to overturn an earlier decision by Fair Work Australia that school students could work one-and- a-half-hour shifts.

The three-hour shift rule was introduced by Fair Work Australia (FWA) to prevent exploitation of shop workers.

But FWA reconsidered the restriction due to complaints that employers could no longer hire students because the period between the end of the school day and the closing of shops was less than three hours.

Justice Richard Tracey ruled that FWA could grant school children an exemption to the three-hour minimum shift rule that applies to employees under the retail industry award.

Byron United Chamber of Commerce president Paul Waters said: "It's a sensible decision to take some of the regulation out of the labour market."

Mr Waters said hopefully it was the first of many human resources reforms, including cutting penalty rates in the hospitality industry so eateries could more easily afford to trade on weekends and public holidays.

Ballina Chamber of Commerce executive officer Nadia Eliott-Burgess said without workplace flexibility, there would be fewer jobs for teenagers and adults.



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