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Hiring holiday help? Know the state and territory rules for junior workers

With the festive sales season in full swing and school holidays around the corner, it is crucial for businesses to check their child employment obligations twice and ensure they are compliant when engaging younger workers during the busy holiday season.

While the regulations on child employment vary in each State and Territory, the applicable pieces of legislation underpinning the regulations have an overarching objective to protect children not only as vulnerable workers, but to ensure their schooling is not impacted by them entering the workforce.

To take the guesswork out of navigating between each State and Territory’s differing rules, we have created a general summary of the key obligations to consider when engaging junior employees.


New South Wales

Legislation The Industrial Relations Act 1996 (NSW), the Industrial Relations (Child Employment) Act 2006 (NSW) and Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW).
Minimum Age There is no minimum age to start casual or part-time work. However, certain restrictions will apply to employees who are under 15 years of age.
Parental Consent There is no requirement for parental consent (unless the employee is engaged in live performance, a still photography session, door-to-door sales etc.)
Restrictions If your employee is under 15 years of age, the following restrictions will apply:
  • Your employee cannot work more than 1 shift per day;
  • Your employee cannot work more than 4 hours (on a school day);
  • Your employee cannot work after 9.00pm (on a school night);
  • Your employee must have a 12 hour break between shifts;
  • Your employee must be provided with a 1 hour rest break after each 4 hours of work;
  • You must not roster your employee in such a way that their time engaged in school and work combined exceeds 50 hours; and
  • Your employee cannot work during school hours.

For clarity, the restrictions above do not apply to employees 15 years of age and above.

Supervision Yes. Adult supervision is required.
Full-Time Employment You may only engage a junior employee on a full-time basis if the employee has completed Year 10, or turned 17, or permission from the Department of Education has been granted.


Victoria

Legislation Child Employment Act 2003 (Vic).
Minimum Age The minimum age of employment is 13 years of age (for work other than delivering newspapers, advertising material, or in a family business).
Parental Consent No. Parental consent is not required.
Restrictions You must apply for Child Employment Permits for each employee you engage under the age of 15.

Further, if your employee is under 15 years of age, the following restrictions will apply:

  • Your employee cannot work more than 3 hours a day, including rest
    breaks (during school term);
  • Your employee cannot work more than 12 hours per week, including rest breaks (during school term);
  • Your employee cannot work more than 6 hours per day, including rest
    breaks (during school holidays);
  • Your employee cannot work more than 30 hours per week, including rest breaks (during school holidays);
  • Your employee cannot commence work earlier than 6.00am and cannot finish later than 9.00pm;
  • Your employee must be given a rest break of 30 minutes after every 3
    hours of work;
  • Your employee must have a 12 hour break between shifts; and
  • Your employee cannot work during school hours.
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For clarity, the restrictions above do not apply to employees 15 years of age and above.

Supervision Yes. Adult supervision is required at all times. The supervising adult must hold a valid Victorian Working with Children Check, unless they are exempt.
Full-Time Employment You may only engage a junior employee on a full-time basis if the employee has completed Year 10.


Queensland

Legislation Child Employment Act 2006 (Qld).
Minimum
Age
The minimum age of employment is 13 years of age (for work other than delivery work, voluntary work, entertainment industry work or in a family business).
Parental
Consent
Yes. If your employee is under 16 and required to be enrolled in school, parental consent must be obtained. You can access the form here.
Restrictions If your employee is under 16 and required to be enrolled in school, the following restrictions will apply:
  • Your employee cannot work more than 4 hours (on a school day);
  • Your employee cannot work more than 12 hours (during a school week);
  • Your employee cannot work more than 8 hours (on a non-school day);
  • Your employee cannot work more than 38 hours (during a non-school
    week);
  • Your employee cannot work more than 1 shift per day;
  • Your employee must have a 12 hour break between shifts;
  • Your employee cannot work more before 6.00am or after 10.00pm; and
  • Your employee cannot work for more than 4 hours without a 1 hour
    break.
  • Your employee cannot work during school hours.

For clarity, the above restrictions do not apply to employees 16 years of age or above.

Supervision Yes. An adult must be in the vicinity and in regular contact with the child if they are involved in the exchange of money or delivery work.
Full-Time
Employment
You may only engage a junior employee on a full-time basis if the employee has completed Year 10 or turned 16 years of age (whichever occurs first).


Australian Capital Territory

Legislation Children and Young People Act 2008 (ACT)
Minimum Age There is no minimum age to start casual or part-time work, however, employees under the age of 15 can only perform ‘light work’ (e.g., completing clerical work or working as a cashier).
Parental Consent Yes. If your employee is under 15, parental consent must be obtained.
Restrictions If your employee is under 15, the following restrictions will apply:
  • Your employee cannot work more than 10 hours in a week;
  • Your employee cannot work more than 6 hours per day (if aged 12 to
    14);
  • Your employee must have a 12 hour break between shifts;
  • Your employee cannot work more than 1 shift per day;
  • Your employee cannot work before 6.00am or sunrise (whichever is
    later) or after 10.00pm; and
  • Your employee cannot work during school hours.
Supervision Yes. Adequate supervision by a responsible adult is required.
Full-Time Employment You may only engage a junior employee on a full-time basis if the employee has completed Year 12 or turned 17 years of age (whichever occurs first).


Western Australia

Legislation Children and Community Services Act 2004 (WA)
Minimum Age The minimum age to perform work in a shop, retail outlet or restaurant is 13.
Parental Consent Yes. If your employee is 13 or 14 years of age, parental consent must be obtained.
Restrictions If your employee is between 13 and 14 years of age, you must not engage them to work before 6.00am or after 10.00pm.

If your employee is 15 years of age or above, no specific restrictions will apply. However, you must not engage the employee to work during school hours.

Supervision While supervision requirements only apply to child employees engaged in delivery work, it would be recommended as a matter of best practice.
Full-Time
Employment
You may only engage a junior employee on a full-time basis if the employee has completed the compulsory attendance at school or at the end of the year that they turn 17.


South Australia

Legislation No specific child employment legislation is currently in force.
Minimum Age There is no minimum age to be engaged in casual or part-time work.
Parental Consent No. Parental consent is not required.
Restrictions If you engage an employee under the age of 16, you cannot engage them to work during school hours.
Supervision While there is no specific legislation requiring supervision of a child employee, it would be recommended as a matter of best practice.
Full-Time Employment You may only engage a junior employee on a full-time basis if the employee is 16 and has completed Year 12 qualification from a high school/Certificate II qualification from TAFE or the employee is 16 and their full-time employment is an apprenticeship or traineeship through a registered training organisation.


Northern Territory

Legislation Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 (NT)
Minimum Age There is no minimum age to start casual or part-time work. However, certain restrictions will apply to employees who are under 15 years of age.
Parental Consent No. Parental consent is not required.
Restrictions If you engage an employee under the age of 15, you must not engage them to work during school hours or perform work before 6.00am or after 10.00pm.
Supervision While there is no specific legislation requiring supervision of a child employee, it would be recommended as a matter of best practice.
Full-Time Employment You may only engage a junior employee on a full-time basis if the employee has completed Year 10 and is at least 15 years of age.

 

Tasmania

Legislation No specific child employment legislation is currently in force.
Minimum Age There is no minimum age to be engaged in casual or part-time work.
Parental Consent No. Parental consent is not required.
Restrictions You must not require an employee under the age of 18, and still enrolled in school, to work during school hours.
Supervision While there is no specific legislation requiring supervision of a child employee, it would be recommended as a matter of best practice.
Full-Time Employment You may only engage a junior employee on a full-time basis if the employee has completed Year 10.

Record Keeping Requirements

All States and Territories (except for South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania) have specific requirements for record keeping when engaging a child, in addition to those specified under the Fair Work Regulations 2009. When engaging a junior employee, you should ensure records kept include:

  • the child’s full name, date of birth, address, and phone number;
  • the name/s, address, phone number (home and business) of the child’s parent/guardian;
  • the name/s, address, phone number of an emergency contact (in the event the child’s parent/guardian is unavailable);
  • copies of any special documents (e.g., parental consent form);
  • the nature of the work to be performed by the child;
  • the date/days on which the child is required to work;
  • the number of hours worked by child (per day and per week), including start and finish times;
  • the details of the breaks taken by the child; and
  • the details of the person in the business responsible for supervising the child.
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