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FAQ

Australian Capital Territory

Question: Hi, my name is Marshall, I am 11 years old and live in Woden Valley. Is my uncle’s business a “family business” where I can work at any age?

Answer: Hi Marshall,

A "family business" is one where at least one of your parents is the owner, director, or partner of the business. A family business does not include one owned by your uncle, but this doesn’t stop you from working for them. You can do light work at any age in the ACT as long as your boss follows the rules for employing children.

 

The rules for young workers


  • What age can you start work?


In the ACT, you can do light work at any age as long as this work doesn't interfere with your education. When you are under 15, your parents have to give written permission to your boss before you start work.

Examples of "light work" are:

  • running errands
  • casual work in and around a private home
  • work related to sporting activities such as being and umpire, referee or tennis court attendant
  • clerical work
  • work as a cashier
  • gardening
  • babysitting
  • performing arts (including film, television, theatre).


  • How many hours can you work?


As an 11 year old, you can only work up to 10 hours per week. Also, you can only work up to 4 hours in one day and you can only work between 6:00am and 10:00pm.

If you want to work more, then your boss must email the ACT Office for Children, Youth and Family support at youngworkers@act.gov.au or call them on (02) 6205 0480 at least 7 days before the work starts.

 

Where can I get more information?


For more information about the rules for young workers, see:


Page last updated on 25 June 2015.

Question: Hi, my name is Bernard, I am 17 and live in Canberra. Is there a difference between licensed premises and a bar? Am I legally allowed to work in a bar?


Answer: Hi Bernard,

You are able to legally work at a bar as long as you do not supply alcohol in an “adults only area” until you are at least 18. You should ask your employer if the entire bar is adults only or if there are just certain adults only areas.

You also have other responsibilities, like completing a Responsible Service of Alcohol course, not serving alcohol to intoxicated people or people under 18.

 

Is there is a difference between bars and licensed premises?

To be able to serve alcohol, a business needs a licence or permit. This means that all bars are generally licensed premises. Certain areas of the premises may also be “adults only areas”. The government tells the manager of the premises which sections will have to be adults only areas. To find out what areas of the bar are adults only, you should ask the owner of the bar.

It is against the law to employ someone under 18 to serve alcohol in an adults only area of the premises. While you are 17, you are legally allowed to work in a bar. You are also legally allowed to work in an adults only area as long as you don’t serve alcohol. If the bar has sections where it is not an adults only area, you are able to serve alcohol. For example, you would be able to serve alcohol with a meal in a restaurant if the restaurant is not an adults only area.

 

What are my responsibilities as an employee serving alcohol?

Employees supplying alcohol have to have completed an ACT approved Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) training course. If you intend to continue working at the bar and want to serve alcohol in adult only areas in the future, after you turn 18, we recommend that you see the following link for the list of RSA courses:
http://www.ors.act.gov.au/publication/view/1690 

You should ask any future employers about completing this training if you haven’t done it already.

As an employee supplying alcohol, you also have other responsibilities which include:

  • refusing to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person; and
  • checking identification and ensuring not to serve alcohol to persons under the age of 18.

Please see the following link for further information about your responsibilities as an employee serving alcohol:
http://www.ors.act.gov.au/community/liquor/liquor_-_employees#RSA


Page last updated on 25 June 2015.

Question: Hey, my name is Bradley. I’m 19 and live in Canberra. I work at a large supermarket chain.  One of my supervisors yells and swears at me and the other employees, and is really intimidating. What can I do?

Answer: Hi Bradley,

We’re really sorry this is happening to you. No one should have to deal with this sort of treatment in the workplace. We strongly encourage you to speak to a trusted person at the supermarket such as a manager, line manager, or an HR officer.

If need be, you could also apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop your supervisor acting the way that she does, as this could be considered bullying. We give you more information on this below.

What can you do?

  • Keep a record

No matter what else you decide to do, it would be a good idea to record and write down exactly what has happened with this supervisor to help you remember if you do speak to someone about it. This will also be evidence if someone needs to look into her behaviour.

  • Speak to your manager of the HR department

A large supermarket is likely to have a bullying policy and a reporting procedure for these types of issues. You should speak to a manager or the HR department about the policies they have in place and how you can report situations like this to management.

  • Contact your union

You also have the option of speaking to your union or a union representative about this issue. The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association is one union that can help you, as a worker at a large supermarket chain.

You can visit their website at: http://www.sda.org.au/about.php?p=about_us or call their national office on 03 8611 7000.

 

Where can I get more information?

There are a number of organisations that may be able to offer advice and assistance and you can also file a complaint with some of them:

  • Safe Work Australia


We encourage you to visit the Safe Work Australia website to find out more information on workplace bullying and what to do about it. They have a Worker’s Guide on how to deal with workplace bullying that you can read here: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/828/Workers-Guide-workplace-bullying.pdf 

You can also read their Frequently Asked Questions page on workplace bullying for more information: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/model-whs-laws/faqs/pages/workplace-bullying-faqs  

  • Fair Work Commission (FWC)


If it’s found that your supervisor repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards workers and this behaviour creates a risk to health and safety, then this will be considered workplace bullying.

The FWC has more information on what workplace bullying is here: https://www.fwc.gov.au/resolving-issues-disputes-and-dismissals/workplace-issues-disputes/anti-bullying

A worker who reasonably believes they have been bullied at work may apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the workplace bullying, though you are encouraged to try and address the issue of bullying within the workplace first. You can find out how to lodge an application here: https://www.fwc.gov.au/resolving-issues-disputes-and-dismissals/lodge-application

Once this form is lodged, the FWC will send a copy to your supermarket for your supervisor to respond. The FWC will then deal with the application by mediation (an informal, confidential, voluntary process), conference or hearing (a formal proceeding), and the matter may be resolved by an agreement or an order to stop the bullying.

  • Work Health and Safety Regulators

These regulators are able to offer you further advice and assistance on your issue. You may also be able to report the bullying that is occurring to them.

A list of regulators for each State and Territory can be found on page 9 of Safe Work Australia’s Worker’s Guide: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/828/Workers-Guide-workplace-bullying.pdf

 

  • Comcare

Comcare is a national regulator who can provide information and advice to you on bullying in the workplace. You can contact them on 1300 366 979.

You can also read more information on their website about bullying in the workplace here: http://www.comcare.gov.au/preventing/hazards/psychosocial_hazards/bullying_in_the_workplace. Claims can be made to Comcare but the incident must have caused a mental injury.

 

Who can I talk to about how I’m feeling?

If you want to talk to someone about what’s been happening, you can talk to a counsellor for free from Kids Helpline or headspace.

You can call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 24 hours a day or headspace on 1800 650 890 (9am to 1am).

Or you can chat to someone online at www.kidshelp.com.au/teens , www.eheadspace.org.au or http://www.headspace.org.au/headspace-centres

Page last updated on 25 June 2015.

Question: Hi, my name is Chloe, I am 17 years old and live in Acton. Recently, I was verbally harassed and threatened by another work employee. I told my manager but nothing’s been done. What can I do?

Answer: Hi Chloe,

We are sorry that this has happened. The most important thing is your safety. If you ever feel like you are in immediate danger, please call 000.

Chloe, your workplace has a duty to do make reasonably sure you are safe and free from harm at work. If your work colleague continues to threaten you, there are things you can do to try to get your employer to help you, especially if you think they are not responding appropriately. We have explained these below.

 

What is bullying at work?

Bullying at work is when someone repeatedly victimises, humiliates, threatens or intimidates you AND their actions create a risk to health and safety. Some examples of bullying are:

  • insulting, yelling or swearing;
  • spreading rumours, gossip or innuendo;
  • threatening phone calls or text messages;
  • physical abuse like pushing, poking or hitting ; and
  • teasing or playing practical jokes at work.

 

What is your employer required to do?

Under workplace health and safety laws, your employer owes you a duty of care to take reasonable steps to protect your welfare. Part of this duty is that your employer has to make sure that you are not being bullied, harassed or threatened at work. If your boss is not doing anything to stop your colleague from bullying and threatening you or others, you have a right to say something about it.

 

What can you do?


  • Ask your manager to lodge a report

Chloe, if no reports have been made about what happened, we recommend that you give your manager a copy of your written statement about what happened and ask your manager to lodge it according to any processes set out in the workplace bullying policy.

If you’re not sure about how to approach your manager, the following website contains some tips for how to raise issues effectively at work: http://www.fairwork.gov.au/how-we-will-help/how-we-help-you/help-resolving-workplace-issues#try-to-resolve-the-issue-yourself

  • Make a workplace health and safety report

If the bullying continues and your employer does not help you, you may be able to make a report to the Work Safe regulator in ACT. To contact them to make a report, you can call on 6207 3000 or email them at worksafe@act.gov.au. You can also contact them using the WorkSafe ACT Report smart form, which you can find here: https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/forms/worksafe_report

  • Apply for an anti-bullying order

If the bullying continues and your boss doesn’t do anything to stop it from happening, then you might be able to apply for an “anti-bullying order” from the Fair Work Commissioner.

Not everyone can apply for an anti-bullying order, but based on the information that you have given us, we think that you should be able to apply for the anti-bullying order if:

  • the bullying keeps going; and
  • your employer is a company.


To check whether your employer is a company, you should have a look at your payslip and see whether it says ‘pty ltd’ or ‘proprietary limited’ next to the name of your employer’s business.

If not, you can also check whether your employer is a company by going to: http://abr.business.gov.au/. If you search your employer’s name, the website will tell you if your employer is a ‘pty ltd’ company—or another type of company. If your employer has the letters ‘pty ltd’ in it, or if the website says that your employer is a company, then you should be able to apply for an anti-bullying order.

If you make an application, the Fair Work Commissioner must start to deal with it within 14 days of when they received your application. They will then send copies of that application to your boss and to the person who is bullying you. Once your boss and the person bullying you receive the application, they will be able to give the Fair Work Commissioner their side of the story. The Fair Work Commissioner will then try and resolve the problem by organising for you, your boss and the person who is bullying you to attend a meeting. The problem will then be resolved if everyone agrees about what to do next, or if everyone cannot agree, then the Fair Work Commissioner can make an order that everyone has to abide by.


What if I am feeling unsafe and need to take urgent action?

  • Apply for a workplace protection order

If you are worried about the employee trying to harass and threaten you again, you can apply to the court for an interim workplace protection order. This is a temporary order made in urgent circumstances.It can put in place conditions to protect your safety at work (for example, banning your colleague from working at the same time as you) until the court can hear more details about the matter, decide whether to make a final order and decide what conditions this order should contain to protect you.

**In order to do this, you will need to know the name and address of the employee who threatened you. You could ask your manager for this, or get the police to help you find out these details.**

Because you are under 18, you can ask the police to apply for a workplace protection order for you or you can ask your parents or carers to make the application and go to court with you.

You can read more about what you need to do to apply for a protection order and the court process here: http://www.courts.act.gov.au/magistrates/page/view/3259

 

  • Arrange a meeting with your manager and parents

We strongly encourage you to arrange a meeting between you, your parents and your manager so that you can talk about what steps will be taken to keep you safe. You can write down a detailed explanation of what happened when your colleague harassed and threatened you and bring this to the meeting so you don’t forget anything. You could also ask the other employees that have witnessed your colleague’s behaviour to attend the meeting and/or provide a written statement about what they witnessed.

Some of the things that you might want to ask for at this meeting include:

  • the steps that your manger will take to protect you from this employee;
  • the name and contact details of the employee who threatened you, in case you want to make a police report or apply for a court order; 
  • a copy of your workplace bullying policy (if it has one) so you can see if there are specific processes your manager is supposed to follow or other workplace contacts you should talk to in addition to your manager;
  • a copy of any workplace or police report that has been made about what happened.

 

Where can I get more help?

  • If you need any legal help you can call Legal Aid ACT on 1300 654 314 from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You can check out their website at: www.legalaidact.org.au.
  • You can also contact the Youth Law Centre for free legal information, advice and referrals. You can call them on 6173 5410 for information and appointments. 
  • If you want to talk to someone about what’s been happening, you can talk to a counsellor for free from Kids Helpline or headspace. You can call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 24 hours a day or headspace on 1800 650 890 (9am to 1am). Or you can chat to someone online at www.kidshelp.com.au/teens  or www.eheadspace.org.au.




Page last updated on 25 June 2015.

   
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