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Catalogue delivery company pleads guilty to 318 breaches of child employment laws

Wage Inspectorate Victoria 2 mins read

A catalogue delivery company responsible for Australia’s largest distribution network has pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to 318 counts of breaking Victoria’s child employment laws, in a case that concerned the employment of more children than any previous child employment matter in Victoria.

Ive Distributions Pty Ltd admitted to breaking the law by employing 318 children, aged 11 to 14, without child employment permits, between 5 July and 6 September 2022.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria, the state’s child employment regulator, began investigating Ive Distributions after receiving a tip-off from a parent whose child had been offered work as an ‘independent contractor’ with the company.

In sentencing, his Honour Magistrate Gattuso noted that businesses have an obligation to make themselves aware of the laws in the jurisdictions they operate, and that Ive Distributions did not undertake due diligence in this instance.

His Honour also noted that the non-compliance was a result of ignorance rather than a deliberate flouting of the law.

Ive Distributions was placed on an undertaking to be of good behaviour for 3-years with the condition it pay $4,000 to the court fund and ordered to pay $3,000 in costs.

The matter was heard on Thursday, 4 April 2024.

Quotes attributable to Robert Hortle, Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria

“I’m gobsmacked that a company that hired over 300 young kids as a core part of its distribution model didn’t bother to look into child employment laws. As a result, we had kids working without a proper assessment of their welfare before that employment commenced.”

“If you’re hiring kids as young as 11, I’d like to think you’d do your due diligence and ensure you do so legally. In this instance, Ive Distributions hasn’t engaged with child employment laws despite some of the children doing the work being primary school age.”

“This is an example of community members looking out for the wellbeing of kids. A parent whose child was offered work felt something was a little off, so they let the Wage Inspectorate know and we sprang into action and found an unprecedented number of kids employed without a permit.”

“Luckily, in this instance, no child was harmed, but businesses shouldn’t rely on luck. Engaging with the Wage Inspectorate before employment commences is both common sense and a legal obligation.”

Background

In Victoria, a business usually needs a child employment permit or licence to employ someone under 15, whether the work is paid or voluntary. Employing a child without a permit or licence is a crime and may be penalised.

A child can deliver newspapers and advertising material from the age of 11, provided the employer holds a child employment licence or permit.

Victoria’s child employment laws help protect kids under 15 from work that could harm their health or wellbeing. It helps ensure the employer understands workplace risks and has measures in place to help keep young people safe.

It also ensures the employer knows about child employment laws relating to supervision, rest breaks and working hours.

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.


Contact details:

Daniel Simpson: 0476 884 205

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