Fair Work Commission decision out of touch with economic reality, a barrier to junior employment

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has today expressed its concern at the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) decision that will raise the cost of junior employment at a time that many retailers are fighting for survival.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said: “We are in the first recession for almost three decades and it’s disappointing to see the Fair Work Commission continue to elevate the costs of employing staff. This unfortunately demonstrates the FWC are out of touch with the prevailing economic conditions facing retailers,” Mr Zahra said.

“We are also concerned that the main effect of the decision will be to reduce the opportunities available for young Australians to find secure work, and make it more prohibitive for retailers to train young staff,” he said.

“The ARA acknowledges that the larger cohort of level 2 and 3 employees will not be affected, which aligns with our position on the issue.

Mr Zahra said that the appearance of fairness veiled the reality that junior applicants would be left to fight for the same positions as more experienced, adult employees, without the industry benefit of junior rates.

“Junior rates provide a proven benefit for young Australians seeking employment early in their lives, providing an incentive for retailers looking to give opportunities to applicants which lack the training and experience of their established peers,” he said.

“We hope that the Commission will in future provide more careful consideration to the economic conditions and the unintended consequences of its decisions on retailers and the long-term prospects of their employees,” Mr Zahra concluded.

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