Read about some of the most common workplace issues faced by young workers today. If there’s anything we’ve missed or you’re experiencing your own issue at work, contact us.
Covid 19 & JobKeeper
If you’re unsure about your rights during the covid pandemic, check out our FAQ with Maurice Blackburn which discusses quarantine rights and workplace closures. Since the publication of this document, the Queensland State Goverment has also announced paid leave for casuals and people who have exhausted their sick leave if they test positive for Covid-19. More information on the Queensland Government Hardship Payment here.
Q: Can my boss keep a portion of my JobKeeper payment if I normally earn less than $1500/ fortnight?
A: JobKeeper theft is wage theft. The Government subsidy is purely for the payment of your wage. Even if you normally earn less, your employer cannot retain the remaining amount. Make sure you keep an eye on your JobKeeper payments to ensure that you are receiving the full amount and also that you are continuing to be paid superannuation.
Q: My employer hasn’t applied for JobKeeper and I’ve been let go. Is there anything I can do about this?
A: The biggest issue for young workers during the covid-19 pandemic in relation to JobKeeper isn’t that their employer is stealing the payment, but that they haven’t applied in the first place. JobKeeper is a voluntary scheme offered by the government so businesses and employers cannot be compelled to apply. What this has meant though, is that instead of accessing JobKeeper, employers can terminate the employment of all casual staff and keep only the workers that they have contractual obligations to. While employers are legally allowed to do this, it has resulted in loss of income and employment for young workers that otherwise could have been avoided with an application to JobKeeper.
Q: Are unfair dismissals worth pursuing?
A: Over 75% of young people are in casual work which can make pursuing unfair dismissals more difficult. However, there are some circumstances where casuals can pursue a claim. Take the Fair Work Commission’s eligibility quiz to see if you’re able to make a claim.
The other issue for young people is that the current process can be very prolonged and become expensive depending on the time it takes and if you’re being represented by a third party.
Working For Free
Q: Can I be made to complete numerous unpaid trials to get work experience?
A: Working for free can be a tricky area to navigate. As young workers, we’re all eager to get some experience on the resume and hopefully get a foot in the door. So when does looking for experience become exploitive?
Generally, a trial should be sufficient to show that you have the skills to perform the tasks associated with the role or that you will be able to learn.
Internships can be unpaid so long as it is part of an approved program and there is a clear understanding of the roles of an intern compared to those of an employee.
As jobs become more competitive, young workers may feel pressured to accept more and more unpaid work for the sake of experience. If you’re unsure as to whether your work experience is ok or if you’re working for free, contact us for advice.
Contracts & Payslips
Q: Do I always need a contract? I’m just working a few shifts here and there?
A: The short answer is yes. A contract is important as it sets out your role , responsibilities and wage. Relying on a verbal understanding can be problematic and if you feel as though the verbal contract has been violated, it is incredibly difficult to prove.
Q: My pay goes into my account automatically. Should I still be checking and keeping payslips?
A: Your payslip is the best way to keep track of your pay. You should check your payslip against the amount that is being deposited into your account to make sure it matches up. It is also a good way to check that your superannuation is being paid correctly. Additionally, you can check the amount against your industry award or Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. Holding on to your payslips is also important for tax reasons.
As you’ll see over on our Young Worker Stories page, Andreas from the Gold Coast was made to sign incorrect payslips and then paid way below the modern award wage. Ensuring that your payslips are correct is something you can do every time you get paid to protect your rights at work.
Q: What are the options for young workers who struggle in the workplace?
A: Young workers are likely to feel as though they’re in a double-bind when facing issues in the workplace. As a group, we are vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of experience especially a lack of experience with workplace confrontation. On the other hand, no one wants to be seen as a problematic employee. Raising issues can often seem too daunting and risky.
If you’re struggling at work, whether its wage theft, bullying, unsafe practices or anything else that is having a negative impact, chances are that other workers are feeling the same way so it’s a good idea to talk to the other people who work there.
The next thing to do is ask for help. You can talk to your manager, union representative or us!
Ultimately, no employee should ever feel pressured into accepting poor working conditions for fear of the repercussions.