The correct employment, payment and management of people is imperative for businesses to get right, but it can be complicated. It becomes even more complicated when engaging persons who are not Adults. All businesses must understand not only what a Junior and a Minor is and what their responsibilities to these vulnerable employees are.
When a person becomes an adult is more complicated than having a birthday. In the social context persons are considered to be adults when they are able to vote, consume restricted products (alcohol and tobacco), bind themselves in contracts and be legally autonomous…so when they turn 18 years.
In the employment context there are complicating factors that result in an employee being a Junior until they are over 20 or 21 years of age.
When considering the vulnerable group of “Juniors” it is important to understand the definitions of key terms;
- Adult Employee:
As per the Sect 12 Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), an Adult is an employee over 21 years old
- Junior Employee:
As per the Sect 12 Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), a Junior is an employee under 21 years old
- Minor Person:
A minor is a person under the age of 18 years old
- School Aged Child:
A child under the age of 16 years and required to be enrolled in school (has not yet completed year 10)
So all Minors are “Juniors” when it comes to employment, but even after reaching the age of 18 years, when they can vote and have the legal autonomy of an adult in Australian society, an employee remains a “Junior” in terms of employment until they reach the age of 21 years.
“Understanding the interaction between State and Federal legislation and ensuring compliant and practical engagement of Juniors is vital. Juniors can not only engage the community but also provide a vital ‘second set’ of hands instore or in the office to service customers and achieve business goals, but the business must understand the requirements” explains ACAPMAs Elisha Radwanowski.
“In some states working with a Minor requires a ‘Working with Children Check’, in some industries Juniors can retail products they can not buy, and in all cases Juniors have hours and task restrictions that need to be understood to avoid breaches” continues Elisha.
“The penalties for breaching the Fair Work (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act are substantial, with a serious contravention penalty amounting to $133,200. Businesses should note that Juniors are considered Vulnerable Workers” adds Elisha.
“There is no need to be scared of engaging Juniors, they really can add to the productivity of a workplace and in a tight labour market every hand helps, it is simply vital that the business understand the requirements so they can be sure they are meeting them” concludes Elisha.
ACAPMA Guide 2022-2023 – Employing Juniors has been released and is now available to ACAPMA members on request (email email@example.com) and will be distributed in August 2022 with the full ACAPMA Guide Pack.
Here to Help
HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general information for you to consider and do not constitute advice. You should seek further advice on your situation by contacting your legal advisor. ACAPMA members can access resources and receive advice, guidance and support from the ACAPMA employment professionals via firstname.lastname@example.org , it is free for members. ACAPMA Membership delivers this and more benefits, see; https://acapma.com.au/membership/ for more information.
Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)