The Victorian Government has backed a business community push to reduce the length of minimum shifts to make it easier for secondary school students to work casually in the retail industry.
Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Richard Dalla-Riva announced that the government is seeking to make a submission to Fair Work Australia (FWA) supporting a bid to improve flexibility around minimum shifts for students working casually after school in retail.
“We support the application to FWA by the National Retail Associationto lower the three hour minimum shift length for teenagers seeking casual retail work,” Mr Dalla-Riva said.
“We support their bid to vary the retail award to allow students to agree to work after school for a minimum of one and a half hours, with the permission of parents or guardians.
“Federal awards mandating minimum three hour shifts for all casual employees have reduced the opportunity for teenagers to be employed in after school work – a move that has denied them valuable work experiences.
“The Baillieu Government will argue for a commonsense approach. We do not believe Labor’s award system should make it harder for small businesses to hire students, especially in regional Victoria, and harder for students to get after-school work.
“The Victorian Government believes that this is unfair and is an example of a failure to deliver flexible working conditions that could materially and socially benefit young people and small businesses across the state.
“The bid to lower shift lengths for students is about improving working opportunities for ordinary working people whilst maintaining the protections afforded to vulnerable employees.
“Lowering casual shift lengths will increase employment opportunities for secondary school students and the size of the potential retail workforce – especially in rural and regional areas.
“Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the retail industry has the third highest share of casual employees – 40 per cent of the workforce. It also shows that more than 87 per cent of employing retail businesses in Victoria employed fewer than 20 people.
“We believe that lower minimum casual shifts in these circumstances will assist the participation of young people in the workforce, smoothing their eventual transition to full-time employment and making it easier for employers to get necessary staff for shorter periods.
“This, I believe, will be a benefit not only for students and employers, but for the Victorian economy,” Mr Dalla-Riva said.