The holidays are over and you’re hiring students

29 February 2012

As the holidays wind down, students are turning their minds to work as well as classes.

If you employ students you have the same responsibilities towards them as any other employee. This includes first time workers and international students.

So if you’re an employer, covered by the national workplace relations system, you need to give new employees a Fair Work Information Statement before, or as soon as possible after, they start work.

You also need to make sure you’re giving employee’s payslips within one day of paying their wages, and meeting your other record-keeping obligations.

High school students

Students often bring new skills and eagerness to their first job. It’s important that you take your time to talk to them about their entitlements and your expectations, as they’re often unaware of different laws that protect them.

Things to be aware of

  • ‘Juniors’ are usually entitled to a lower hourly rate then adults. Under the Fair Work Act, a junior is an employee who is under 21 years old. Check your modern award or agreement to see if junior rates apply
  • Some State and Territory governments limit the age at which young people can work, the type of work they can do, the hours they can work, and whether parental permission is required. So check these limits before hiring a young person
  • An employee can only be a trainee or an apprentice if they are signed up through the relevant State or Territory training authority
  • It’s a good idea to speak to a parent or guardian when hiring a new employee who is under 18 years old
  • If you want an employee who is under 18 to enter into an individual flexibility arrangement or an agreement to make any deductions from their pay, their parent or guardian will need to sign on their behalf
  • Modern awards and agreements may have additional requirements for junior employees, including limits on the type of work they can do and the number of hours they can work. Check your modern award or agreement for details.

You can use our Guide to employing young workers for more information about hiring and managing young workers.

Work experience & student placements

Genuine work experience, volunteer arrangements or ‘vocational placements’ can be unpaid. You can read about the different Types of unpaid work arrangements and the problems that can occur on our website. If you’re still not sure, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a lawyer or employer association for one-on-one advice and information.

If the work isn’t a genuine vocational placement or volunteer arrangement, the person is entitled to wages and conditions of employment.

Things to be aware of

  • Just because someone isn’t covered by the Fair Work Act doesn’t mean that they aren’t covered by other laws, such as occupational health and safety and discrimination. You’ll need to contact the relevant authority in your State or Territory for details. You’ll find some links below
  • It’s a good idea to put everything in writing. This ensures that the details of the working arrangement are written down to refer to if there is a problem
  • A student can’t simply ‘volunteer’ to work at your business without pay. Various factors need to be considered to find out whether or not they are an employee or a volunteer.

Find out more:

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Page last updated: 29 Feb 2012