On 14 September 2011, Fair Work Australia (“FWA”) rejected an appeal by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (“SDA”), which sought to maintain the minimum shift for casual employees at three (3) hours, pursuant to the General Retail Industry Award 2010 (“Retail Award”). FWA has determined to reduce the minimum engagement period for casual employees to 90 minutes, subject to the following:
- - The employee is a full-time secondary school student; and
- - The employee is engaged to work between 3pm and 6:30pm on a school day; and
- - The employee agrees to work, and a parent/guardian agrees to allow the employee to work, a shorter
- period than three (3) hours; and
- Employment for a longer period is not possible either because of the operational requirements of the employer or the unavailability of the employee.
Note, the minimum shift of three (3) hours remains for all other casual employees who are not full-time secondary school students.
SDA national secretary Joe de Bruyn disagreed with the decision. He said the union is, “…bitterly disappointed…we feel [the decision] chips away at the fundamental entitlements for all employees in the retail industry. Furthermore, the decision sets a dangerous precedent for all employees, with regular part-time and casual shifts threatened by shorter, cheaper shifts”. He said the union rejected, “..this decision would empower young workers or encourage greater workforce participation…on the contrary, this is a thinly-disguised cost-saving exercise by the retailers to cut back hours for regular casual and part-timers who cannot compete with school casual rates and hours”.
But, the National Retail Association Ltd (“NRA”) executive director, Gary Black, said the decision, “reflects the flexibility and common sense which should be present in the workplace…regime to allow employers and employees to make arrangements that suit their individual circumstances”. He explained, for many students, a casual or part-time retail job was their first introduction to the workforce, and enforcing three-hour shifts would mean that many were, “simply not able to access part-time employment between 3.30pm and closing time”.
However, the decision has not taken effect. Retail employers must still continue to roster all employees for at least 3 hours work until the Retail Award has been varied.
We will update you when the variation takes effect. For further information please see our
McColm Matsinger Lawyers