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TK Maxx pleads guilty to child employment breaches after ignoring regulator’s warning

Wage Inspectorate Victoria 3 mins read

TK Maxx has pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to 7 breaches of Victoria’s child employment laws at its Werribee store.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria, the state’s child employment regulator, began investigating TJX Australia Pty Limited, trading as TK Maxx, as part of a compliance blitz in December 2022.

On 8 December 2022, the Wage Inspectorate found TK Maxx Werribee was employing a child under 15 without a permit, so it warned the business that the child must cease work immediately. However, TK Maxx Werribee proceeded to employ another child without a permit the very next week.

The investigation also found the parental consent form used by TK Maxx noted that children would be working in line with child employment restrictions. Restrictions they have now admitted to breaching.

Today, TK Maxx Werribee pleaded guilty to:

  • employing 2 children under 15 without a permit on 12 occasions
  • failing to ensure a child was supervised by someone with a Working with Children Clearance on 4 occasions
  • employing a child for more hours than they are permitted to work on 3 occasions
  • employing a child later than 9pm on 3 occasions
  • failing to provide children with a 30-minute rest break for every 3 hours worked on 11 occasions.

The offences took place between 28 September and 26 December 2022.

In sentencing, his Honour Magistrate Thomas said he considered the offending to be inadvertent, and noted the company had no prior convictions and had entered an early guilty plea.

TK Maxx was placed on an adjourned undertaking for 12 months with the condition it pay $5,000 to the court fund.

Quotes attributable to Robert Hortle Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria

“The parents who gave permission for their kids to work at TK Maxx Werribee have every right to feel let down. The consent form they signed said their kids would be working within the legal framework, which is designed to look after their welfare. We now know those laws were broken on several fronts.”

 

“TK Maxx received a clear warning from the Wage Inspectorate that kids under 15 cannot work without a permit yet ignored the regulator and went on to employ another child without a permit just a week later. It’s behaviour that shows a disregard for child employment laws and for the wellbeing of its young employees.”

 

“TK Maxx ignored the regulator’s warning, broke a range of child employment laws, and didn’t do what it said it would do in its parental consent form. I consider this serious offending and the Wage Inspectorate won’t hesitate to take such matters to court.”

 

“Kids don’t have the same mental or physical stamina as adults, so they can’t work the same hours and need to have regular rest breaks. It’s concerning to see a workplace of this size fail to take the welfare of kids into account.”

Background

Child employment laws

Victoria’s child employment laws require employers of children under 15 to have a child employment permit or licence before any work takes place.

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.

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

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.

Further information can be found at wageinspectorate.vic.gov.au.

Details of compliance blitz

The Wage Inspectorate’s compliance blitz that uncovered TK Maxx’s offending focussed on retail businesses in shopping centres across Melbourne.

Wage Inspectorate officers inspected 169 businesses across 8 shopping centres, including Chadstone, Southland, Eastland and Highpoint. 69 retail businesses were required to produce information about any workers under 15.

The compliance blitz led to 4 investigations. In addition to the prosecution of TK Maxx, 3 other businesses received official warnings.


Contact details:

p. 0476 884 205
e. media@wageinspectorate.vic.gov.au

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