The unemployment rate across Australia is predicted to hit 10% by June 2020, and workplaces all around the national are being forced to adapt the way in which they work due to coronavirus. As a result, many young Australian employees are left asking, “Am I being treated fairly?”
Unfortunately, unfair and illegal workplace issues are nothing new to many young Australians. When Scott Collom was just a first-year electrical apprentice, he was exposed to severe unsafe workplace practices.
“When you’ve just left high-school and it’s your first job, you don’t know any better. You just go with the flow and these are the things that can lead to workplace deaths,” he said.
Not willing to accept how he and his colleagues were being treated, Scott reached out to his union and fought back. He later completed his apprenticeship with another employee and after seeing the difference between a safe and unsafe workplace through this process, and understanding the difficulties involved in addressing these issues –Scott became a union activist and now works with The Young Workers Centre.
“We understand young workers are facing a whole range of different issues and are quite prone to being treated unfairly at work,” he said.
The Young Workers Centre is a one-stop-shop for young workers who want to learn more about their rights at work or who need assistance in resolving workplace issues.
As coronavirus continues to displace apprentices and trainees across Australia, knowing your rights and being able to access support is now more important than ever.
“There’s definitely been an increase with some of these issues due to covid-19. One of the big ones we’ve come across is suspension of apprenticeships,” Scott said.
An apprenticeship suspension is a signed agreement between an employer and an apprentice. It may be suggested if your employer is currently short of work. An apprentice cannot be forced to sign this agreement, and it must be agreed to by both parties.
So, what can you do if you’ve been offered a suspension due to low work?
If you agree to take the suspension, you can continue your studies throughout this period. You are also eligible to move your apprenticeship to an alternative workplace to complete your certificate.
However, as Scott suggests, if you are offered a suspension due to low work talk to your employer about the current available JobKeeper incentives. The Federal Government has introduced subsidies specifically targeted to keeping apprentices in work throughout the covid-19 period.
“The apprentice gets kept on in their apprenticeship whilst still getting an income and support their life. The company will then, at the end of this, have an apprentice to continue with their work,” Scott says.
Need some support from the team at The Young Workers Centre? Contact them here.
You can hear more from AATIS and Scott Collom on the MyGain by AATIS podcast here.
For any other questions related to Apprenticeships and Traineeships contact AATIS here.