Employment and Migration Blog

Dream or Reality: 90 minute shifts?

Posted by Anna Ford on 25 Jul 2011

Retail employers nation-wide are rejoicing over their win, after a long-raging war, to hire casual students for as little as 90 minutes after school. But will the celebrations be short lived?

As at 1 July 2011, the existing 3 hour casual minimum engagement period under the General Retail Award 2010 was due to be amended to 90 minutes. As at 1 July, full-time secondary students were to be eligible to enjoy shorter shifts if:

  • they are working after school between 3pm and 6:30pm;
  • the employee and guardian/parent agree; and
  • employment for a longer period is not possible because of the unavailability of the employee or operational requirements of employer.

The National Retail Association (NRA) applied to FWA for the amendment, believing that it would finally inject some ‘flexibility’ and ‘common sense’ into the workplace. In the NRA’s opinion, not only would it prove to be the perfect opportunity for students to learn employability skills and develop a work ethic, but it would also give young people work experience.

However, the 90 minute shift amendment is now on hold, as the Shop Distributive and Allied (SDA) Employee’s Association has appealed the decision to amend the minimum engagement period. The SDA argues lack of evidence to prove that secondary students have been unable to work because of the 3 hour minimum shift requirement, and asserts that the 90 minute regime reduces the security of employees and increases the risk of exploitation of employees by retailers.

So will FWA grant the retailer’s wish? Watch this space!