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Human Resources, Legal

Barwon Heads fish and chip shop convicted and fined $4000 for child employment breaches

Wage Inspectorate Victoria 2 mins read

Mangroves Bar Pty Ltd, trading as Mangroves Bar and Grill, has been convicted and fined $4000 in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court for breaking Victoria’s child employment laws.

Mangroves Bar and Grill pleaded guilty to employing a child under 15:

  • without a permit
  • for more than 6 hours a day, the maximum allowed during school holidays
  • without providing rest breaks of 30-minutes for every 3 hours worked.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria, the state’s child employment regulator, began an investigation after Mangroves Bar and Grill applied for a child employment permit but withdrew the application when it was asked to provide more information.

The investigation found Mangroves Bar and Grill proceeded to employ the child without a permit and uncovered the breaches of other conditions relating to the child’s employment.

In sentencing, her Honour Magistrate Fawcett said it is abundantly clear that the Child Employment Act operates to protect children from performing work that could be harmful to their health or safety, their moral or material welfare or development.

Her Honour noted that it was an aggravating factor that the business was aware of the Child Employment Act permit requirements but proceeded to employ the child without a permit and in breach of conditions attached to that employment.

Quotes attributable to Robert Hortle, Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria

“The biggest risk with breaking these laws is that a child gets seriously hurt, but this judgment shows there are financial and reputational risks to ignoring child employment laws too.”

“This matter serves as a warning to any business considering shirking child employment laws. Our officers are inspecting businesses across Victoria, and we won’t hesitate to take serious matters to court.”

“The permit system enables us to ensure matters like safety, hours of work, rest breaks and supervision are properly considered. There’s no excuse for not having one, particularly if you already know the rules.”


Recent prosecutions

The prosecution against Mangroves Bar and Grill follows other recent prosecutions commenced by the Wage Inspectorate:

A prosecution is the Wage Inspectorate’s most serious compliance tool and decisions to take legal action are made in line with its Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

About the laws

Victoria’s child employment laws require employers of children under 15 to obtain a permit from the Wage Inspectorate before any work takes place. From 1 July 2023, the permit system will be replaced by a licensing system.

Workers under 15 must be supervised by someone who holds a valid Victorian Working with Children Clearance (unless exempt).

Child employment laws restrict when businesses can employ children and how long they can work:

  • during a school term, children can be employed for a maximum of 3 hours a day and 12 hours per week
  • during school holidays, children can be employed up to 6 hours a day and 30 hours a week
  • children can only work between 6am and 9pm (unless street-trading).

Children must also receive a 30-minute rest break after every 3 hours work.

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