A rethink by Fair Work Australia on minimum working shifts for secondary school students will make it much easier for business owners like Darryl Pursey, of Harris Cycles in Lismore, to employ young people for a few hours a week.
A rethink by Fair Work Australia on minimum working shifts for secondary school students will make it much easier for business owners like Darryl Pursey, of Harris Cycles in Lismore, to employ young people for a few hours a week. Cathy Adams

Win for bosses hiring schoolies

AN OVERHAUL to the minimum number of hours secondary school students can work has been welcomed by local businesses as a win for common sense that will create jobs.

Fair Work Australia last week overturned a one-year-old regulation to now allow students to work a minimum of 1.5 hour shift rather than three hours.

“Most school-aged kids work after school and shops shut at 5pm, so previously you couldn’t employ them because they couldn’t get up to three hours,” the owner of Harris Cycles in Lismore, Darryl Pursey, said.

“The powers that be said the three-hour minimum was to protect them, but it didn’t protect them at all – it made them unemployable.”

Northern Rivers regional manager of the NSW Business Chamber John Murray said the ruling would help keep the region’s youth in the area and dismissed union claims that jobs would be lost.

“It’s nonsense to suggest these short after-school jobs will put anyone out of work,” he said. “The reality is these jobs have existed for 100 years before Fair Work took them away. This is a win for parents and a win for teenagers who want to earn their first wage.

“If our young people start working in business when they are at school, they can make inroads into getting a job in the area once they leave school.”

A survey of 330 retailers last April by the Australian Retailers’ Association revealed that two-in-five businesses said they would stop hiring teenagers because of the three-hour minimum.

Yesterday it applauded the about face.

“Fair Work Australia has made a logical decision that will overturn limitations in the modern award that didn’t take into account the hours available between school finishing times and close of business,” ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said.

“The retail industry has traditionally been a willing contributor to giving school students their start in the workforce, the ability to gain an independent income and learn valuable skills beyond the classroom. Retailers take this social responsibility seriously and today retailers will be genuinely delighted to take on that role again.”

Mr Pursey said after-school work was crucial for young people to learn how to work and necessary to develop the skills to function outside the school system.

Mr Murray agrees: “Traditionally teenagers in Australia have had their first experience in the workplace through after-school jobs.”

“Sweeping shops, delivering newspapers and cleaning cars are simple jobs which help teens experience earning their own money.”



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