Retail workers win adult rate case

Retailers will have to pay their 20-year-old workers adult rates following a decision by the Fair Work Commission.


However, the workers will need to have been with their employer for more than six months to be eligible for a pay rise.

The decision has angered retailers, who say it will risk jobs.

They have called on the federal government to do everything in its power to halt the increase.

“This decision will prove detrimental to both employers and employees,” Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said.

The commission found that a significant number of retail employees already had at least three years’ experience by the time they were 20.

It also found there was little difference in the work and duties of workers aged 20 and 21.

The discounted rate – 90 per cent of adult rates – for 20-year-old workers did not provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net, the commission decided.

The case was launched by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) which welcomed the commission ruling, adding that it will only bring beneficial employment outcomes.

“Paying younger workers less than the full adult rate is outdated and discriminatory,” the SDA said in a statement after the decision.

But the Australian Industry Group said the change was a blow to the retail industry at a time when trading conditions were tough.

“The commission’s decision to disturb the current system of junior rates risks destroying the job prospects of many young Australians,” the group’s chief, Innes Willox, said.

The new rates will be phased in over a year, starting on July 1, 2014.