Changes to the Child Employment Act

The Victorian Government’s new child employment laws came into effect on 1 July 2023.

Changes to the Child Employment Act

Changes to Victoria's child employment laws came into effect on 1 July 2023.

The Child Employment (Amendment) Act 2022 improves the regulation of child employment in Victoria. It strengthens protections for children in the workplace and makes it easier for employers to understand their obligations when employing children.

The Act applies to the employment of children under the age of 15.

New licensing system

A streamlined child employment licensing system replaced the permit system, reducing the burden on business. Where a licence is issued, employers can now employ multiple children under one licence, rather than applying for a permit for each child they engage.

Existing child employment permits continue to be valid until their expiry date, so employers don’t need a licence to employ children they already have permits for.

The new licensing system is risk-based, allowing the Wage Inspectorate to focus on monitoring those types of work that are the highest risk.

Learn more about the licence application process


There are changes to supervision requirements:

  • Employees under 15 must always be supervised by someone over 18
  • Employers must maintain supervisor records for 5 years
  • In the entertainment industry, children must always be supervised by someone with a Victorian Working with Children Clearance during casting
  • Children working in a family business must be supervised by an adult.

Definition of employment

The Act changes the definition of employment for children under 15:

  • Not-for-profit organisations are no longer exempt, and must comply with the Act
  • Door-to-door fundraising is no longer excluded from the meaning of employment
  • Kids working for themselves as a tutor continue to be excluded from the definition of employment, however they are now able to provide tutoring services in locations other than residential premises.

New criteria have been added to help determine whether work by a child under 15 is considered employment, and considers whether:

  • the work of the child is for the benefit of the business/organisation or a person involved in the business/organisation
  • the child is subject to directions about how their work is performed.

Children working on lifestyle, documentary or educational programs who are not performing under direction are not subject to the Act.

School work experience

Work experience arrangements are regulated by the Education and Training Reform Act 2006.

Work experience for a child who attends a secondary school does not need a licence, but a licence is required for a child that is home schooled.

Not-for-profit organisations

Not-for-profit organisations that engage children are covered by the Act, even where they do not have an employment contract in place with a child.

Not-for-profit organisations need to apply for a child employment licence and comply with the Act if they:

  • engage a child for the benefit of the organisation or a person involved in the organisation, whether paid, unpaid or the child receives other reward for performing that work, and
  • the child is under direction about how the work is to be performed.

Delivering pharmaceutical products

The minimum age for delivering pharmaceutical products has increased from 11 to 13.

Family businesses

Family businesses continue to be excluded from most provisions of the Act.

The meaning of family business has been clarified, to specify that it must be the business of the child’s parent or person with parental responsibility.

Prohibited work

For employers in entertainment, a new provision of prohibited conduct has been included in the Act, which incorporates and builds upon requirements in the Mandatory Code of Practice for the Employment of Children in Entertainment.

An employer must ensure a child is not socially isolated or caused to feel:

  • intimidated
  • threatened
  • frightened
  • humiliated.

Children must not be exposed to adult themes.

Compliance and enforcement

The Wage Inspectorate has:

  • power to issue compliance notices as a way of getting a business to adhere to the law
  • widened powers of entry.

The penalties for breaching the Child Employment Act increased in line with other comparable, risk-based schemes, such as the working with children requirements.