No: 4

Winter 2003

Demand a witness
stand up for your rights

All you people working in retail should be aware of your rights in regards to security issues, especially if you are under the age of 18.

An incident occurred in a supermarket where a young union member was called into his manager's office and was accused of theft. The manager closed the door and demanded that the boy empty his pockets. He then began intimidating the boy with questions regarding the theft of some of the store's merchandise.

The boy denied the allegations but was repeatedly accused of stealing.

He asked a number of times to have his parents present at the interview but was refused. At no time was he offered a witness. The manager made it clear that no parent, guardian or witness would be allowed in the room.

The treatment in which the manager conducted the interview was a serious breach of the young worker's rights.


Every employee is entitled to have a witness of their choice accompany them when asked into a manager's or supervisor's office to be questioned.

If you are a member of a union, it would usually be the store delegate. If you are a minor, that is if you are under the age of 18, and are being interviewed for security issues such as theft, you are required to have a parent or guardian present with you by law.

So make sure you stand up for your rights. Remember to ask for someone to be present every time you have to attend a disciplinary or security matter in a manager's office.

If you are denied your basic rights, you can refuse to go into the office. A witness, parent or guardian is there for your protection and their presence is needed to ensure that nothing wrong or unlawful is said or done by management that infringes your rights.


Young people are the most likely to suffer from intimidation and have their rights breached. Inform your fellow employees about their rights in regards to these issues. If they do not belong to a union, tell them to join.

It is a great way to learn about your rights as an employee and ensure the workplace is observed and protected.

For more information on which union covers your workplace or job contact the ACTU or your local trades and labour council.

Back to index page