Young Workers Have Rights Too

At least a third of Australia’s high school students aged 15 years and above work in paid employment, the majority within the retail and fast food industries.

While working conditions are much better than they once were, the SDA continues to see young workers being underpaid, dismissed unfairly and treated poorly by employers. Many young workers are simply unaware of their rights and entitlements.

The role of the SDA is to represent and protect its members. We provide quality, accurate advice, information and representation.

We ensure that wages and working conditions outlined in enterprise agreements and awards are correctly applied by employers.

As a young worker, it’s vital you know the rules or conditions that apply to you in your specific classifications.

Firstly, you must be paid for all the time that you work. It is your right, and the legal obligation of your employer to pay you for all work done. You should be paid ordinary rates, ‘flex-up’ rates, penalty rates, loadings or overtime, depending on the circumstances. Under no circumstances should you ever work without pay.

There are many examples of young workers not being paid correctly, or not being paid the correct overtime rate. These include:

  • working before a rostered shift commences
  • working through rest pauses or meal breaks
  • taking work home, such as paperwork
  • working 10 or 15 minutes after rostered finish time and not getting paid for it
  • coming in on a day off or when on leave, and not getting paid for it.

We have often heard employers claim “it wasn’t authorised” to avoid paying an employee in these types of situations. If any of these situations arise at your employer’s direction, you are entitled to be paid at the correct rate.

If you are employed in a part time or permanent job you will be given ‘contracted hours’. This means you sign a contract to say that you will be rostered a certain number of contracted hours each week. You can receive more hours but you are not to receive less.

If you are rostered to work less than your contracted hours speak to your manager. It may have simply been overlooked. You are still entitled to be paid for the rest of your contracted hours unless you choose not to work them. If you aren’t comfortable approaching your manager, you can speak to your Union Delegate or contact the SDA.

Do not agree to allow your company to take hours out of your annual leave or sick leave to make up your contracted hours. This is illegal unless you are actually on annual leave or off sick.

Don’t be afraid to speak up, be heard and receive what is rightfully yours.

Further information

SDA members can find enterprise agreements, awards and wage schedules outlining rates of pay and allowances on the SDA website at

If you believe your employer is not applying your enterprise agreement or award correctly, contact the Newcastle SDA office on 4961 4694 for advice.

You can also request a copy of our Vital Information for Young Workers brochure.

You must be a financial member of the Union to receive assistance. Visit our website or call us to find out more about what we can do for you and how you can join the SDA.






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