The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association’s (SDA) latest bid to launch a Fair Work Commission (FWC) case to abolish junior rates for workers aged between 18 and 20 will risk pushing young people out of the retail labour market.

The junior rates incentivise young entry-level workers, with little to no experience, to start their careers in retail, where they learn essential skills they can take with them to other industries.

The General Retail Industry Award already contains a provision where adult rates of pay apply to young workers who have reached specific positions in their careers, such as an assistant store manager.

Retail is the biggest employer of young people in Australia; if junior rates were abolished, young, inexperienced workers would be forced to compete with older, more experienced candidates and could eventually be pushed out of the market.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) the youth unemployment rate sits at a high 9.6 per cent. Therefore, young people need a tangible leg-up into the industry, which is what the junior rates are designed for.

Retail is currently struggling with a labour shortage crisis in conjunction with high labour costs. Abolishing junior rates will exacerbate both issues, creating a situation in which both retailers and their current and potential employees lose.


The National Retail Association represents more than 60,000 stores across Australia. It has been serving businesses in the retail and fast-food sectors for close to 100 years.

For more information, contact the National Retail Association media unit on 0467 792 013.