Asking retailers to offer part-time work to casual staff.

As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) recognises the Fair Work Commission’s decision today which requires retailers to offer casual staff part-time employment after being with the business for 12 months.

ARA Executive Director, Russell Zimmerman said while today’s decision gives retail staff employment security, the ARA are concerned the decision will reduce flexibility for retailers.

“We acknowledge Fair Work’s decision today, however we fear this verdict will significantly impact retailers as casual’s flexible hours are essential to the industry,” Zimmerman said. “Given the current change-of-hours rules around part-time employees, there is a continual need for casual employees and their flexible working arrangements.”

The ARA believes the decision will only be operationally viable if retail employers are able to offer part-time workers additional hours without incurring overtime penalties, as the procedural requirements for changes to the rostered hours of part-time employees can be unrealistic for retailers.

“The ARA believes that if there were flexibility in the hours of part-time employees this decision might have made sense, but the retail industry experiences peaks and troughs in trade which are an impediment to offering fixed hours for part-time employees.

“Retailers would of course love to reward those long-term staff with a set amount of hours per week and an option to increase those hours without paying overtime, however the existing award provisions around part-time employees, highlight the necessity of casual employees. We will be acting to have those provisions changed,” he said.

The ARA believe the existing requirements, combined with the new casual conversion provisions, will only bring further challenges to Australian retailers who are already facing a difficult operating environment.

“Retail employees are an important asset for retailers and the overall industry, therefore the ARA will be seeking more flexible part-time arrangements through the Award Review process,” he added.