Business praises student work hours

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Business praises student work hours

21-Jun-2011 Business groups have praised a draft ruling by Fair Work Australia to allow students to work a minimum 1.5 hours.

The ruling will apply to secondary school students working for retailers between 3pm and 6.30pm on weekdays, and comes after an application to FWA by the National Retail Association (NRA) in October last year.

BUSINESS groups have praised a draft ruling by Fair Work Australia to allow students to work a minimum 1.5 hours.

Image: "Retailers are struggling right now from a two-speed economy, subdued consumer spending and a restrictive regulatory environment," Mr Anderson said.

Unions raised fears it would encourage employers to cut back on afternoon shifts in its adult workforce, mainly women.

A spokesman for Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans said on Monday he would not comment on the matter because it was still being finalised by Fair Work after consultation with the parties.

"However it does reflect a process of careful consideration by the independent umpire taking into account the need to promote youth employment and social inclusion," the spokesman said. 

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) chief executive Peter Anderson said the industrial umpire's decision was a necessary victory for common sense.

It would provide practical benefits for retailers and students.

"Retailers are struggling right now from a two-speed economy, subdued consumer spending and a restrictive regulatory environment," Mr Anderson said.

"Today's decision is a small but important step towards sensible flexibility in the workplace.

"It will especially help retailers, particularly in rural and regional Australia, to provide a more active and a responsive level of service to their customers, and employees."

Opposition workplace relations spokesman Eric Abetz said the decision was welcome news but it was long overdue and cold comfort for students who had been sacked.

"None of this mess would have happened if (Prime Minister) Julia Gillard had intervened following publicity about the plight of young after school student workers Matthew Spencer and Leticia Harrison who lost their jobs at a Terang hardware store in country Victoria," Senator Abetz said.

"Today's decision comes too late for Matthew and Leticia and hundreds of other after school student workers who lost their jobs due to Ms Gillard's arrogance and her failure to act." 

Fair Work vice president Graeme Watson will consider further submissions before finalising the submission.

Parties have been invited to make submission about the draft determination attached to the Fair Work decision within seven days.

Andrea Hayward, Sunshine Coast Daily

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