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Fish and chip shop charged with child employment breaches

Sunday 16 October 2022 8:00pm

Wage Inspectorate Victoria has filed 14 criminal charges in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria against a Barwon Heads fish and chip shop, alleging it contravened state laws relating to child employment permits, rest breaks and hours of work for a child under 15.

It is alleged Mangroves Bar Pty Ltd (trading as Mangroves Bar and Grill) contravened section 9(1) of the Child Employment Act 2003 (the Act) on six occasions by failing to obtain a child employment permit when it allegedly employed a 13-year-old during school holidays in January 2022.

It is also alleged the company contravened section 21 of the Act four times by allowing the child to work shifts of more than six hours. In addition to this, the Wage Inspectorate alleges the company contravened section 22 of the Act four times by failing to provide the child with a rest break.

The maximum penalty for each offence is 100 penalty units ($18,174). If found guilty of all offences, the company faces a fine of more than $250,000.

The matter has been listed for mention in the Magistrates’ Court in Melbourne on 14 November 2022.

This latest court proceeding follows the Wage Inspectorate’s recent campaign focused on regional fast food outlets, restaurants and cafes, which found almost 80 per cent of businesses employing children under 15 were breaking the law because they had failed to apply for a child employment permit.

They were all put on notice that any future non-compliance would be met with more serious penalties, including potential legal action, while one employer remains under investigation. The campaign saw child employment officers educate hundreds of employers about their obligations.


Victoria’s child employment laws require employers of children under 15 to obtain a permit from the Wage Inspectorate before any work takes place.

The permit system enables the Wage Inspectorate to check that matters like safety, hours of work, rest breaks and supervision are properly considered before employment starts. Permits are free, and employers can quickly and easily apply for one online at the Wage Inspectorate website.

Child employment laws place restrictions on when businesses can employ children and how much they can work. For example, during school holidays, children can be employed up to six hours a day and 30 hours a week. They must also receive a rest break of 30 minutes every three hours. During a school term, kids can be employed for a maximum of three hours a day and 12 hours per week.

Today’s announcement comes on top of other recent court action by the Wage Inspectorate:

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.

A licensing system will be introduced from 1 July 2023 as part of changes to child employment laws that will strengthen protections for children and make employing them even simpler.

Employers, parents and children can visit the Wage Inspectorate website for information on child employment or call the Wage Inspectorate’s Helpline on 1800 287 287.

Reviewed 16 October 2022

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