By Claire Reilly
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and the National Retail Association (NRA) are citing a Fair Work Australia decision to allow young workers shorter shifts on school days as a win for the rights of retailers.
FWA handed down its decision in the Federal Court on Friday, allowing students to work for 1.5 hours on school days, provided they work between the hours after school and retail close of business, and provided written consent is supplied by both the employee and their parents.
The same decision was originally handed down by FWA in June 2011, however, the ruling was appealed by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association. What followed was a war of words between the executive director of the ARA, Russell Zimmerman, the executive director of the NRA, Gary Black and the national secretary of the SDA, Joe de Bruyn.
Shortly after the final ruling was handed down on Friday afternoon, both the ARA and the NRA were pushing themselves into the public eye once more, making their views on the decision known with plenty of motherhood statements.
“The fact that the Federal Court upheld the ruling and chose to implement rather than delay the decision until today’s hearing is an indication the almost two year running fight for students’ rights to gain employment has dragged on for too long,” said ARA president, Roger Gillespie.
“The decision to enable retailers to employ students for a minimum 90 minute shift is a win-win for retailers and students alike.
“Retailers will opt not to employ students at all if they have to pay them for hours they don’t work, so the ruling has allowed students to get a look in for employment opportunities where they might not have previously as well as offer students valuable skills beyond the classroom.”
Gary Black of the NRA took a similar tack, praising the Federal Court for standing up for the rights of school children.
“This appeal effectively sought to block the work opportunities of thousands of school kids currently working a short shift in retail,” said Black. “This decision is a win for those young workers, a win for the employers who are prepared to give them their first taste of life in the workforce, and quite frankly a win for common sense.”
“The NRA has fought this battle since 2010 and has had to defend the rights of retailers and young workers to agree to work short shifts after school through three appeal proceedings and six proceedings in total,” he added.
“It has been a long and tortuous battle and it is now time for the SDA to accept the umpire’s verdict.”
Current.com.au has contacted the SDA and Joe de Bruyn personally for comment on the ruling.