By Aimee Chanthadavong

Fair Work Australia has upheld its decision to refuse to amend retail award’s minimum three hour shift requirement.

As a result of this decision, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said it will take jobs away from thousands of Australian workers.

“You can no longer hire anybody for two hours,” Russell Zimmerman, ARA executive director, told Retalbiz.

“You get a lot of women where they want to leave their jobs early at around the 3pm mark so they can pick up their young children from school and that’ll leave a gap and that’s where the idea of where retailers can employ people to work during that gap period until closing time. Retailers will need to find somebody to work a shift right through to 5.30pm and that may not be easy.”

According to a recent ARA survey, currently over 55 per cent of retailers employ school students for short shifts in between the end of school, at approximately 3pm, and close of business, which is typically 5 – 5.30pm. Also, 55 per cent of retail respondents said they would stop employing students to work after school as a result of the national three hour minimum shift for casual workers.

Zimmerman also noted that by making the changes it takes away the opportunities the retail industry has to offer to young adults.

“Working during these three hour periods it gives young adults an ideal opportunity in the retail industry as it’s a starting point to allow them to come in contact with customers and interact with other adults,” he said.

In March, ARA applied for the new retail award’s three hour minimum shift to be reduced to two hours, allowing school students to work between the end of school and close of business. The application was rejected in July and the ARA was again heard at an appeal in August.