Being a student and juggling work is hard, especially as many students work casually or part time so it’s even more important to receive the hours and wages you’re entitled to. As most students are young, they may not know their rights or feel confident in standing up for themselves.

The SDA is here to provide expert advice to members and speak to employers on your behalf if needed. We also help with disputes or harassment issues, and negotiate Enterprise Agreements and Awards to ensure employees are working in fair and safe conditions while being paid correctly.

As a student it’s important to be focused on studies, as an SDA member we look after you at work so you have one less worry.

Minimum engagement

Receiving the hours you are entitled to or have agreed to is important when you are studying and on a tight budget. Enterprise Agreements and Awards detail how long your minimum engagements (shift lengths) must be when you’re called into work.

Full-time and part-time employees usually have a weekly minimum number of hours that they are engaged for. Weekly hours cannot be less than the minimum specified by their Award or Enterprise Agreement. Employees must be paid for the minimum number of hours they were 'contracted' to work, each week. Additional hours can be worked, but must be paid for at the appropriate rate.
Casual employees don’t usually have a weekly minimum, but work on an hourly or shift basis. However legally, shift minimums are typically three hours. This means you cannot be put on a roster for less than three hours and if you are sent home after two hours, you still must be paid for three (the only exception being for a training shift).

Rosters and roster changes

Working and studying requires a planned schedule to fit in classes. Make sure you have clearly informed your employer of your study commitments and know what hours you are entitled to, depending on your type of employment. It’s always good to also keep a copy of any written correspondence.

Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to a roster. A roster sets out the regular starting and finishing times for the shift, to be worked out each week across a two to four week cycle.

Most Enterprise Agreements and Awards require employers, when establishing or changing a roster, to have regard for the family responsibilities of the employee, and whether the employee can access safe transport home. Some Enterprise Agreements also require employers to consider the employee’s study and sporting commitments.

There may be other matters which are important to you and which you want your employer to take into account when setting rosters. If this is the case, you should make it known to your employer at the time you are hired.

Most Enterprise Agreements and Awards also specify:
·    That employees will be given a regular roster which is not subject to frequent variation (depending on type of employment)
·    Rosters cannot be altered with the intent of avoiding payments, penalties or benefits applicable under the Enterprise Agreement or Award.

Other matters relating to rosters which are typically covered by Enterprise Agreements and Awards include:
·    The maximum number of consecutive days that can be worked,
·    The minimum and maximum number of hours that can be worked on a shift,
·    The number of consecutive days off an employee must have per week or fortnight,
·    The maximum number of hours that can be worked per week or roster cycle,
·    The minimum break between shifts, and
·    Overtime and penalty rates.

The Enterprise Agreement or Award which applies to your work will contain specific provisions relating to rostering. Your employer is obliged to know what these entitlements are, and apply them correctly.

100% Pay at 18+ campaign

Unfortunately for young adults aged 18-20 junior wages are still in place. This means someone slightly older can earn more for doing the exact same job with the same level of experience. At 18 you are paid 30% less than the adult rate, at 19 you are paid 20% less, and at 20 you are paid 10% less.

In Australia all other circumstances you are considered an adult at 18 in, so we feel these junior rates are unfair. Our 100% Pay at 18+ campaign is working to change this, to show your support or find out more click here.

SDA benefits

On top of being looked after at work, the SDA provides a number of discounts and scholarships to help save you money. These include: Textbook scholarships and overseas exchange opportunities, discounted driving lessons, discounted movie tickets and entertainment, dining discounts and much more! For a full list of benefits, click here.






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