A Gippsland restaurant has been fined $4000 in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to 40 breaches of Victoria’s child employment laws.
Wage Inspectorate Victoria, the state’s child employment regulator, began investigating Paynesville restaurant Deja’s Pty Ltd, trading as Three Double 8 Zero Pizza Bar & Grill, after receiving a tip-off from the community alleging child employment breaches.
Today, Three Double 8 Zero Pizza Bar & Grill pleaded guilty to:
- employing 5 children under 15 without a permit on 161 occasions
- employing children for more hours than they are permitted to work
- employing children later than 9pm
- failing to provide rest breaks of 30-minutes for every 3 hours worked
- failing to provide a break of at least 12 hours between shifts.
The offences took place between 22 May 2022 and 5 February 2023.
The Wage Inspectorate’s investigation found that, despite being contacted by the regulator about child employment matters in November 2022, the restaurant continued to employ children without the required permits and in breach of child employment conditions until 5 February 2023.
In sentencing, Her Honour Magistrate Howe noted that a member of the community was so concerned for a child’s welfare that they took it upon themselves to report the employment to the Wage Inspectorate.
Her Honour also noted the failure of the restaurant to act once the investigation was on foot displayed a lax attitude toward its obligations as an employer.
Her Honour did not record a conviction, taking into account the restaurant’s contribution to the Paynesville community, as well as its early guilty plea.
Quotes attributable to Robert Hortle, Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria
“It beggars belief that a business could be contacted by the Wage Inspectorate about child employment matters, then continue to employ kids for another 2 months. It shows a disregard for the law and the potential risks to children.”
“This matter serves as a warning to any business shirking child employment laws. Not only do we have officers inspecting businesses across Victoria, but we have a community that is very protective of children’s wellbeing and will let us know when they see something of concern, as happened in this case.
“Working can provide valuable experience for kids but there’s risks involved, which is why a business needs a licence to employ kids under 15.”
“Kids under 15 are still developing and don’t have the stamina of adults, so they need rest breaks, a suitable gap between shifts and they shouldn’t be working late. The message is simple – getting informed is the first step to complying.”
An employer usually needs a licence to employ someone under 15, whether the work is paid or voluntary. Employing a child without a licence is a crime and may be penalised.
A streamlined child employment licensing system replaced the permit system on 1 July 2023, reducing the burden on business. Where a licence is issued, employers can employ multiple children under one licence, rather than applying for a permit for each child they engage.
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 a 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.
Children must also receive a 30-minute rest break after every 3 hours of work.
More information about Victoria’s child employment laws is available on the Wage Inspectorate’s website or by calling 1800 287 287.
Anna Basil-Jones - 0428 627 002