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Auditing blitz to check compliance with child employment laws

Wage Inspectorate Victoria will audit businesses employing children under 15 as sports instructors as part of a new campaign to check compliance with child employment laws.

09/03/21 21.00pm

Wage Inspectorate Victoria (the Wage Inspectorate) will audit businesses employing children under 15 as sports instructors as part of a new campaign to check compliance with child employment laws. 

The audit will focus on martial arts, gymnastics, and calisthenics, where children are sometimes employed as instructors and supervise high-risk activities. 

The Wage Inspectorate is writing to 300 employers across Victoria to notify them of the audit. 

It will be the first of several audit campaigns this year, with the entertainment industry, fast-food outlets, and children working on farms focus areas next. 

Children under 15 years can legally work in Victoria but in most situations – whether the work is paid or unpaid – their employer requires a child employment permit.

In Victoria, 6 per cent of children under 15 have a job, providing valuable experience and income. 

Child employment permit applications are assessed by the Wage Inspectorate and help ensure matters like hours of work, rest breaks, supervision and safety are considered before employment starts. 

The Wage Inspectorate will work with businesses to educate them on their rights and responsibilities. 

Businesses found to be breaching child employment laws can face consequences ranging from formal warnings to litigation, where fines of up to $16,522 per breach for companies, and $9,913 for individuals, can be imposed. 

More information about employing children under 15 years and how to apply for a free child employment permit is available from the Wage Inspectorate’s website, or by calling 1800 287 287

The audit coincides with a Victorian Government review of the Child Employment Act 2003 and the child employment permit framework. Victorians have until 19 March to share their experiences of, and opinions on, child employment as part of the review. 

The Wage Inspectorate enforces laws covering child employment, long service leave, and independent contractors in the transport and forestry sectors. It provides information and support to employees, employers and contractors about their work rights and responsibilities under these laws.

Quotes attributable to Wage Inspectorate Director, Robert Hortle

“Work provides valuable experience and can be a lot of fun, especially among friends at a sports centre. The permit system ensures children have this experience in a safe and appropriate environment.” 

“Sport training centres have been identified as a high-risk sector because some of the activities they teach are inherently risky. That risk is amplified if you have children supervising these activities.” 

“Employers don’t always know they need a permit to employ a child under 15, especially if the work is unpaid, so an important part of this campaign will be educating employers about their responsibilities.” 

Reviewed 09 March 2021

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