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Things to know if you're a high school student who works!

As we transition from school holidays back into school mode over the coming weeks, it’s important to know what your rights are at work as a school student. 

 Some of you may have picked up a job over summer, or perhaps you’re looking to start a job while in high school. It can be overwhelming to balance the two, so here is some information about your rights to make it easier to navigate. 

Firstly, you have the right to decline shifts during school hours or late at night/early in the morning. 

If you’re under the age of 15 the rules are strict.  

Your boss is not allowed to: 

  • make you work during school hours  
  • For more than 3 hours per day or 12 hours per week during the school term  
  • For more than 6 hours per day or 30 hours per week outside of a school term 

It’s a bit different if you’re over the age of 15 and whether you are a casual or part-time worker. 

If your boss asks you to take on work that will affect your ability to attend school: 

  • If you are a casual employee: you have the right to refuse these shifts as it’s unreasonable for your employer to expect you to work these shifts. 
  • If you are a part-time employee: you have the right to refuse additional hours on top of the usual hours, you have agreed to work. Your boss expecting you to work hours that will impact on your school hours may be unreasonable and you should seek legal advice, (which the Young Workers Centre provides for free!) 


How to speak to your boss if a shift clashes with school: 

  • Have a friendly conversation with your boss, reminding them that you are a student, and the school term is starting, and you still want to work shifts that fit in around school. 
  • If you can, give your boss notice so they can find a replacement 
  • You can speak to your boss in person, over the phone or via email or text – however you normally communicate with them! If you speak to your boss in person or over the phone, we recommend following the conversation up with an email or text, so you have it in writing.  


If your boss reacts negatively to you declining a shift: 

  • It is against the law for your boss to treat you negatively for refusing a shift (they can’t fire you, reduce shifts or treat you adversely). 
  • If this happens, contact your union or the Young Workers Centre as soon as possible. If you have been fired, you have 21 days to file a claim. 


Remember you can always reach out to the Young Workers Centre. If you have any questions about your rights at work, you can give us a call on 1800 714 754 or email us at [email protected].