A leading expert in the tourism and service industries is urging young people to be cautious as they enter the workforce and take advantage of the open job market created by staff shortages across the state.
With some hospitality businesses, particularly fast food, heavily reliant on teenagers for staff, Federation University Tourism and Management Associate Professor Dr Elisa Zentveld said employees needed to check their wages and conditions were up to scratch.
"It's very important that people have an understanding of what the work situation involves and just some simple questions they should be asking such as, are they on the relevant award or are they on an enterprise agreement," she said.
"If it's an enterprise agreement, they should be looking on the front page to make sure it's current and hasn't expired, because if it's expired, the conditions they will be working under may not be competitive and appropriate."
Dr Zentveld said it was common for young people in service industries to not know their rights and potentially be taken advantage of, but also important for businesses to offer appropriate conditions to attract and retain staff.
"It's important that they understand what their wage will be, what their roster might look like and that they'll be given minimum three-hour shifts," she said.
"If their conditions are not right and they're working and then find out later that they could earn more money elsewhere because they'll on an award and be treated better if they go down the road and work for the competitor, those people will vote with their feet and then businesses might be wondering why their staff turnover is high.
"So it's also a really important time for businesses to just check that they're being competitive and fair and offering the appropriate conditions to retain and attract staff."
In order to ensure they are working under appropriate conditions, Dr Zentveld said young people only needed to ask a couple simple questions and encouraged parents to guide their children through the process.
"A really simple question would be if that business pays as per the award or if they have an enterprise agreement set up because it will help them to understand what the conditions and the pay will be, and any documents that they're given, they should read through and not just sign and hand over," she said.
Even better, parents can sit down with their child and go through it with them to help interpret and understand, because a parent is likely to have had experience in the workforce and has multiple things to compare and contrast and interpret."
Beyond pay, Dr Zentveld said she was also aware of young people finding issues with being given shifts of less than three hours or not having a rostered finish time, along with being given managerial responsibilities too early.
"Sometimes because businesses are short staffed, they'll be getting new, untrained people to take on higher order tasks that are actually management tasks, which is just a point of responsibility that is not appropriate," she said.
"This is particularly the case if the person's under 18, they shouldn't be doing higher order tasks by taking responsibility for counting the till or doing a shop closure.
"It's much better to be just transparent and fair, and then it works for all parties. We don't want people cutting corners and then people are unhappy and leave and no one knows why they left. It's just not fair treatment."
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