Job limit ‘protects workers’

FEDERAL Labor MP for Bendigo Steve Gibbons has defended a federal ruling requiring minimum three-hour shifts.Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association said the Fair Work Australia ruling would take away jobs and income from thousands of young workers. An association spokeswoman said an application had been made to Fair Work Australia to try to amend the award to allow more students to work after school.The application was dismissed on Friday. “The decision is a slap in the face for small business owners and a body blow for young Australians who will lose their jobs simply because they are not able to work for three-hour shifts during the week because of school commitments,’’ association deputy executive director Jennifer Cromarty said.“It is shameful that we will now be sending our school kids out into the workforce without the valuable experience they get from casual retail employment. “Fair Work Australia has shown blatant disregard for the pleas from small retailers and young employees to hand down a ‘commonsense’ ruling to allow casual student employees to work in the two hours between the end of school and the close of business,’’ Ms Cromarty said.But Mr Gibbons supported the decision.“The decision by the federal government for a minimum engagement of three hours for casual work is designed to stop exploitation, especially for junior employees who are already on very low wages,” Mr Gibbons said.Hume & Iser Home Hardware Bendigo assistant manager Brenton Bogumil said he believed the ruling would not have any negative impact on jobs. Hume & Iser employed about 25 casuals, most under 18.Most worked four or five-hour shifts, so the minimum shift requirement would not cause problems. “I think it would probably be a waste of time having someone in [for] under three hours anyway, unless it was just to fill a gap or something like that,’’ Mr Bogumil said. “I don’t think it will affect many kids’ jobs, to be honest.’’ Liberal candidate for Bendigo Craig Hunter said the decision to reject changes to the minimum hours for students wanting to work after school failed the commonsense test.