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Things you need to know when employing young workers this Christmas

November 15, 2017

With consumers gearing up to spend big over the Christmas period and summer holidays, retailers are busy preparing themselves and employing young workers to assist over the coming weeks. But are you aware of the laws around young workers?

It is certainly not the case that you can pay your young employees at trainee rates, simply because they have no prior experience in the industry. Young workers who are not enrolled into a registered training course will need to be paid their minimum entitlements under the relevant Modern Award.

Following critical changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) back in September this year, it is more important than ever that businesses ensure they are paying their employees correctly, including their minimum wage, allowances, penalties and applicable loadings.  If terminating an employee, businesses must remember there are minimum periods of notice as well.

The maximum fines a court may now hand down for underpayments and record-keeping or payslip breaches are $12,600 per breach for an individual and $63,000 per breach for a corporation. Significantly higher penalties exist for serious contraventions of the Act, including deliberate and systemic underpayments, as well as the likelihood of a compensation order to back-pay any affected employees.

NRA has created a number of factsheets for its members to assist in the recruitment of young workers. These factsheets are available on our Member Resource Portal > Fact Sheets.

You can also register your interest in our Fair Work Boot Camps with Round One to be launched shortly.  There will be limited spaces so make sure you secure yours as soon as possible.

Remember, if you are looking to employ persons under the age of 21, you will need to consider the following:

  • Are you aware of the relevant laws around child employment in your State or Territory?
  • Are you aware of the correct pay rates due to young workers?
  • Have you issued your new employees with the Fair Work Information Statement?
  • Have you explained to young workers the differences between casual, part-time and full-time employment, with reference to the modern award?
  • Have you fully explained to young workers their entitlements, including frequency, date and method of payment of wages?
  • Have you identified and explained relevant company policies and procedures?
    • g. procedures to be followed when requesting leave;
    • g. workplace bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment policies;
    • g. complaint handling procedures.
  • Have your young workers signed off on relevant policies, procedures and training?
  • Have you identified a primary contact for raising questions or concerns?
  • Have you provided a work health and safety tour of the workplace, facilities and equipment?
  • Have you identified the business standards of performance and trained employees on how to achieve them?
  • Have you sought written consent from the young employee’s parent or guardian before having them sign any legal documents?

Answered ‘no’ to any of the questions above? Your business could be running the risk of non-compliance and face prosecution and massive fines.  Act now to rectify.  Contact our NRA Legal team on 1800 RETAIL (1800 738 245) or law@nra.net.au.

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