Child employment watchdog hits the Surf Coast

Officers from Wage Inspectorate Victoria are hitting the Surf Coast this week, inspecting cafes and takeaway businesses from Lorne to Torquay to monitor compliance with the state’s child employment laws.

Published:
Monday, 15 January 2024 at 2:00 am

Summer holidays are in full swing and the child employment watchdog is concerned seasonal demand in the holiday hotspot may mean some businesses have overlooked child employment laws in a rush to fill positions, potentially placing inexperienced workers in harm’s way.

Wage Inspectorate officers are also taking the time to talk to employers about the state’s child employment laws, helping businesses understand their obligations now so they can avoid falling foul of the law later.

Kids on school holidays can be a great help to businesses and the experience can be invaluable for them – as long as it’s done safely.

Businesses breaking child employment laws face consequences ranging from warnings to fines of more than $200,000. The Wage Inspectorate has prosecuted 8 regional businesses over child employment laws in the past 12 months.

In Victoria, children can work in retail and hospitality from the age of 13, but most businesses need a licence before employing anyone under 15. A business can employ multiple children under one licence, and must adhere to rules around supervision, work hours and rest breaks.

Research shows children in regional areas are more likely than their metropolitan counterparts to work (8 per cent regional, compared to 5 per cent metropolitan).

Research also shows that 1 in 3 Victorians mistakenly believe 14 and 9 months is the age children can start working without restriction in Victoria. The misconception is more common in regional areas, with 40 per cent of people believing it to be true.

Quotes attributable to Jessica Downey, Director – Child Employment Compliance and Enforcement

“The Wage Inspectorate has prosecuted 8 regional businesses over child employment laws over the last 12 months, but we’d much rather help businesses employ kids safely and legally than take more matters to court, so reach out to get the advice you need.”

“Many kids get their first job over the summer holidays, so it’s important that their first experience in the workplace is a positive one and that their employer has taken the time to make their workplace safe.”

“Kids on school holidays can be a great help to businesses and the experience can be invaluable for the kids. It’s win-win, as long as it is done safely.”

“Parents have a role to play too. If you have a child under 15 who’s started working their first job this summer, make sure the employer has a child employment licence. It’s a simple step you can take to ensure the employer has considered your child’s health and wellbeing.”

“The biggest risk with breaking child employment laws is that a child gets seriously hurt in the workplace. Our officers are out and about from Lorne to Torquay, making sure businesses employing kids under 15 are doing so safely.”

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