Understanding part time employment

BY Australian Retailers Association
28 June 2016

ARA Members often ask the Employment Relations Team questions regarding their part time workforce. Rostering issues, overtime entitlements and public holidays have recently topped the list. So why do you need to rethink your approach to part time employment?

The nature of part time employment provides some obvious pros and cons for employers in the retail industry. Certainly, if you employ a part time workforce you are likely to be thankful that no extra casual loading is necessary on their ordinary base rate, however, part time employees are not only entitled to accrue annual and personal leave, but may provide rather rigid boundaries for employers.

You are reminded that part time employees should have an agreed number of hours, set out in writing. Your part time employee’s should enjoy a sense of stability and confidence when it comes to their hours every week. Compare this to your casual workforce, where you have the ability to change employee hours from week to week to mirror the peaks and troughs of the retail environment.

What do I need to look out for?

Retailers engaging a part time workforce under the General Retail Industry Award are reminded that a part-time employee’s roster, but not the agreed number of hours, may be altered by the giving of notice in writing of seven days or in the case of an emergency, 48 hours, by the employer to the employee. The only time you are able to alter the rostered hours of a part time employee is with mutual agreement, and such variations need to be made in writing before the variation occurs.

Some ARA Members may have part-time contracts that provide for a minimum number of hours only. Although this does provide obvious flexibility for employers, this is not in accordance with the nature of part time employment.

Part-time rosters and overtime

Once a part time employee works outside their agreed number of hours, they are entitled to overtime in accordance with the relevant modern Award. For example, Sarah is a part-time sales assistant who works 20 hours on a Monday to Thursday roster. On the Thursday, a peak hour rush means that Sarah is required to stay back an extra two hours. As these hours are outside her agreed number of hours, she would be entitled to two hours of overtime.

ARA Members must be mindful that relevant modern Awards provide a seemingly rigid set of rules in regards to the application of part time rosters and entitlements, and as such are strongly recommended to seek further advice on any issues involving their part time workforce.

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Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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