Wage Inspectorate Victoria will be inspecting Surf Coast restaurants, cafes and takeaway businesses from Lorne to Torquay these summer school holidays to monitor compliance with the state’s child employment laws.
The child employment watchdog is concerned seasonal demand in the holiday hotspot may lead some businesses to overlook child employment laws in a rush to fill vacant positions, potentially placing inexperienced workers in harm’s way.
Employing kids under 15 over summer can be win-win, with businesses getting enthusiastic staff to help manage the peak season, and kids getting valuable experience and earning spending money. But the Wage Inspectorate warns that it needs to be done safely and legally or businesses may be subject to fines of more than $200,000.
In Victoria, children can work in retail and hospitality from the age of 13, but most businesses need a licence before employing anyone under 15. A business can employ multiple children under one licence, and must adhere to rules around supervision, work hours, and rest breaks.
The child employment licensing system helps protect kids by ensuring the employer understands workplace risks and has measures in place to keep young people safe, and that it knows about rules relating to supervision, rest breaks and working hours.
Research shows children in regional areas are more likely than their metropolitan counterparts to work (8 per cent regional, compared to 5 per cent metropolitan).
Research also shows that 1 in 3 Victorians mistakenly believe 14 and 9 months is the age children can start working without restriction in Victoria. The misconception is more common in regional areas, with 40 per cent of people believing it to be true.
Quotes attributable to Jessica Downey, Director – Child Employment Compliance and Enforcement
“The Wage Inspectorate has prosecuted 8 regional businesses over child employment laws over the last 12 months, but we’d much rather help businesses employ kids safely and legally than take more matters to court, so reach out to get the advice you need.”
“Many kids get their first job over the school summer holidays, so it’s important that their first experience in the workplace is a positive one and that their employer has taken the time to make their workplace safe.”
“Kids on school holidays can be a great help to businesses and the experience can be invaluable for the kids. It’s win-win, as long as it is done safely.”
“Parents have a role to play too. If you have a child under 15 who has just secured their first job over summer, make sure the employer has a child employment licence. It’s a simple step you can take to ensure the employer has considered your child’s health and wellbeing.”
“The biggest risk with breaking child employment laws is that a child gets seriously hurt in the workplace. Our officers are out and about from Lorne to Torquay, making sure businesses employing kids under 15 are doing so safely.”
Anna Basil-Jones - 0428 627 002