The Fair Work Ombudsman (Ombudsman) is out to correct many misconceptions regarding young workers.  This is because too many employers mistakenly believe that a range of practices involving young workers are acceptable when they are actually unlawful.  This is concerning due to the Ombudsman treating cases involving young people more seriously which means they are more likely to pursue enforcement action.

Here are just some of the many common myths surrounding young workers in the workplace:

Myth: Employers can make deductions from an employee’s wages to cover losses arising from cash register discrepancies, breakages and customers who do not pay.

Fact:  Unauthorised deductions from an employee’s pay are unlawful.  Deductions can be made only in very limited circumstances.

Myth:  Paying a low, flat rate of pay for all hours worked is fine if the worker agrees.

Fact:  Minimum pay is mandatory and in many jobs penalty rates must be paid for evening, weekend or public holiday work.

Myth:  Employees are not required to be paid for time spent opening and closing a store.

Fact:  Employees must be paid of all hours of work and this includes time spent opening or closing a store.

Myth:  Employers can pay young workers as ‘trainees’ or ‘apprentices’ without lodging any formal paperwork.

Fact:  Employers must lodge a registered training contract for an employee in order to lawfully be able to pay trainee or apprentice rates.

Myth:  Lengthy unpaid work trials are fine.

Fact:  Unpaid trials are only fine for as long as needed to demonstrate the skills required for the job.  Depending on the nature of the work, this could range from an hour to one shift.

While only 16% of the Australian workforce are young people, they incorporate 25% of requests for assistance to the Ombudsman.  The Ombudsman considers it critical to raise awareness among employees and employers so they know the serious contraventions of workplace laws they may be unwittingly practicing.

Business Health Check

Does your business employ young workers?  Are you satisfied that your assets, both personal and business, are adequately protected?

We can assist you to:

  • streamline the structure of your business so your assets, including the business premises, are protected;
  • clarify your employment contracts to ensure employees know your expectations;
  • protect your supply arrangements and terms of trade so your business is safe if you lose a major supplier; and
  • ensure your family is provided for in your Will and Enduring Power of Attorney.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if your business needs a closer look by completing our free Business Health Check today.  Click here to complete the Business Health Check.