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Human Resources, Industrial Relations

Surf Coast businesses put on notice after child employment compliance blitz uncovers hundreds of breaches

Wage Inspectorate Victoria 2 mins read

Several Surf Coast businesses have received official warnings for breaching Victoria’s child employment laws following a summer compliance blitz that found 89 per cent of businesses employing kids under 15 were breaching at least one aspect of the law.

The state’s child employment regulator, Wage Inspectorate Victoria, inspected businesses from Torquay to Lorne, requiring them to provide information about any employees under 15. Of the businesses who were employing kids under 15:

  • 56% were employing children without the required licence and were breaching other child employment conditions.
  • 33% had a child employment licence but were breaching rules about supervision, work hours and rest breaks.

All unlicensed businesses subsequently applied for a licence.

The Wage Inspectorate’s investigations identified approximately 550 alleged offences against the Child Employment Act 2003, with most relating to children working outside allowable hours or not being given adequate breaks.

After considering the circumstances of the alleged offending, the cooperation of the businesses and their attempts to bring themselves into compliance, the businesses were issued formal warnings.

Wage Inspectorate officers also took the time to talk to employers about the state’s child employment laws, helping businesses understand their obligations.

Following the compliance blitz, the Wage Inspectorate saw a 366% increase in Surf Coast businesses applying for child employment licences.

Quotes attributable to Robert Hortle, Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria  

“Our intelligence suggested surf coast businesses may not be complying with child employment laws, so we expected to find breaches, but it’s concerning that most businesses employing kids were breaching the law in one way or another. It shows the need for ongoing education and compliance monitoring.”

“Some businesses were unaware they needed a child employment licence, some had overlooked licence conditions, while others were unaware they could employ kids under 15 and were pleased to learn more about how they could do so safely and legally.”

“We saw a sharp increase in Surf Coast businesses applying for child employment licences, so the campaign clearly raised awareness of these important laws and businesses are keen to comply.”

“The Wage Inspectorate is here to help businesses hire kids under 15 safely and legally because it can be a positive experience for both the child and business. We’d much rather help businesses comply and keep kids safe than take matters to court.”

About child employment laws

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

Workers under 15 must be supervised by someone over 18 years, who holds a valid Victorian Working with Children Clearance.

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.

The Wage Inspectorate’s enforcement action is taken in line with its Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

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


Contact details:

Anna Basil-Jones - 0428 627 002

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