Young workers shielded from Howard’s laws

NSW Government introduces new laws to protect young workers

The threat of WorkChoices has been lifted from an estimated 150,000 young workers in NSW.

New laws to protect workers under 18 have come into effect in the State.

The State Labor government used its child protection powers under the constitution to bring in laws to override the Howard government’s industrial legislation.

The laws maintain young people’s wages and conditions to at least the level of NSW awards – regardless of what WorkChoices says employers can do.

NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, John Della Bosca, said the laws also restore unfair dismissal protections removed by the federal law for under 18s in NSW.

The State government has also changed workers compensation law to prevent injured workers from losing out under WorkChoices.

‘To ensure the NSW laws that protect injured workers are not overridden by WorkChoices and are extended to all workers in the State, they are being transferred to NSW Workers’ Compensation legislation,’ Mr Della Bosca said.

Other changes include protection of employees against victimisation or dismissal for raising legitimate occupational health and safety issues at work.

‘The new laws will shield young workers, trainees and apprentices with protections, also extending to students undertaking vocational education and training in schools,’ Mr Della Bosca said.

‘WorkChoices allowed employers to pay well below minimum state and federal awards and strip away weekend, overtime and holiday penalty rates.’

He cited a number of contracts lodged with the federal government’s Office of the Employment Advocate, which set the hourly rate of pay for casuals working on a Sunday at 40% less than the NSW equivalent award.

The NSW Office of Industrial Relations will write to employers to inform them of the new laws.

Inspectors will also visit workplaces as part of a compliance campaign and employers could face fines of up to $11,000 for each offence if found in breach of the new rules.

To find out more about the new laws protecting young workers, go to www.industrialrelations.nsw.gov.au