14/05/2008 - 22:00

Reforms mooted for vulnerable workers

14/05/2008 - 22:00


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WESTERN Australia’s Fair Employment Advocate, Helen Creed, has given a stark warning to employers who exploit young workers.

WESTERN Australia's Fair Employment Advocate, Helen Creed, has given a stark warning to employers who exploit young workers.

"Those that are out there who don't do the right thing, they will be brought to task," she said.

Ms Creed's recently released discussion paper, 'Vulnerable Workers: Young People', has found that many young and first-time workers were still being treated unfairly in the workplace despite record low unemployment rates in WA.

Ms Creed told WA Business News she could not explain how employers were "getting away with it" in a time of labour shortages.

"I guess young workers are so excited about their first job that their enthusiasm can blind them to the possibility of exploitation," she said.

Ms Creed's report examined the experience of young people as a vulnerable group in the workplace and discussed proposed legislative reforms for WA, many of which will replace those scrapped under the Howard government's Work Choices arrangements.

Reforms being mooted include reinstating young workers' rights to lodge wage and unfair dismissal claims in the WA Industrial Relations Commission, reducing unpaid trial work to only one day a year, requiring employers to keep certain employment records relating to children and ensuring those records were accessible to the employee Ms Creed said employers found to have exploited young people or to have treated them unfairly could no longer use ignorance of the legislation as an excuse.

"The bottom line is employers have an obligation to make sure they understand the legislation, it's as simple as that," she said.

"You don't get away with ignorance at the tax office so employers have to make sure they know and understand all aspects relating to their employees, whether it's correct wages, the number of parking spaces they're required to have, health and safety, whatever, ignorance is no excuse." Ms Creed said many avenues were available for employers to obtain that information, such as the Small Business Development Corporation, Wageline and the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection.


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