The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has hit out at Fair Work Australia after it allowed a union appeal on plans to cut the minimum shift requirement for students.
Retailers welcomed news announced last week that high school students would be allowed to work 1.5 hour shifts after school. However the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association has objected to the move.
ARA executive Russell Zimmerman says unions had the chance to speak up before the ruling was made.
“These proceedings have been ongoing for almost a year and a half now,” he says. “The unions have had their chance just like industry and retailers and Fair Work Australia have made the right decision to protect student jobs – there’s no need to revisit this,” he says. 
“Retailers want to be able to give students their start in the workforce but the reality is that on weekdays students are only usually available between the end of school and close of business.
“Unions are fighting to deny students the right to legally work after school even if the student wants the shift to fit around their study and sporting obligations.

“The retail industry has traditionally been a willing contributor to giving school students their start in the workforce, the ability to gain an independent income and learn valuable skills beyond the classroom. School students are now being denied this opportunity because the General Retail Industry Award dictates shifts for casual workers must be a minimum of three hours.

“We know from the evidence we have gathered so far retailers are not only having to withdraw after school job opportunities for students, but obligations under the Modern Award also mean they have to review their rosters and staffing levels in general, as well as their ability to stay open for the hours that customers need to shop,” Zimmerman adds.