By Charles Watson, Workforce Guardian.
We probably all remember our first proper paid employment. Some of us look upon it kindly, others have horror stories to tell. Mine was a little different, having been given school holiday work in an abattoir! Although I learnt what hard work was and how to pick a well-muscled roast for dinner amongst other things.
Employers of young workers (often referred to as juniors or even minors) have some unique issues to consider. Additionally, employers need to remember they are hiring teenagers who have not yet attained a hardwired brain or adult thinking. For your reference I have outlined a few considerations for employers to ensure the hiring of a junior worker is a smooth process.
At the national level, the Fair Work Act 2009 does not contain any specific terms on employing a minor, however it must be remembered that the National Employment Standards will apply to their conditions of employment.
At a state and territory level, each jurisdiction has applicable laws and regulations that relate to the age a worker can commence work. Some include laws that their hours of work must not interfere with their schooling. Certain states and territories also require employers to obtain a permit and some require parental permission.
These laws also state certain industries in which a junior cannot be employed. Some workplaces, such as licensed premises serving alcohol, may not employ a minor to undertake certain duties or they have restrictions on the type of duties. Other workplaces, such as those related to the entertainment industry have various restrictions and prohibitions on employing minors.
Further, all state and territories have workplace health and safety requirements that will apply to all workers. However, given the nature of a young mind employers need to pay a little more attention to young workers. You will likely find there are additional WHS related requirements or considerations such as the need for additional supervision or training to safely undertake duties? Assess the workplace as appropriate for employing juniors and monitor more closely.
General Retail Award
This is the industrial award most often applicable to employment in the retail industry. As an industry award it contains little detail on employing juniors, so your search must be a little wider as outlined above. However, the award does contain specific payrates for those workers who are less than sixteen and up to twenty years of age. Junior wage rates are based on a percentage of the adult equivalent. Nevertheless, the remainder of the award terms will apply to junior workers as much as any other worker.
Remember you have just employed a junior worker who cannot vote or enter licensed premises. They are impressionable, inexperienced, need a little more guidance, but can be awesome employees.