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Understanding the details

This section will help you to implement the requirements of the Code and includes detail on application processes for Child Employment Permits, hours, education and workplace.

Key points

  • As an employer who intends to employ a child, you are responsible for applying for a Child Employment Permit. It is unlawful to employ a child without a permit having been issued for that child and that particular job.
  • You are responsible for providing or organising supervision for the entire period of employment. Unless exempt, the employer of children must ensure that Working with Children Checks (WWC Checks) have been conducted and a Notice of Assessment issued prior to allowing a person to supervise a child less than 15 years of age.
  • You are also required to obtain written parental consent and a school exemption when relevant before work commences.
  • Employers are obliged to provide parents with a summary document explaining the Code.
  • This section explains the processes involved in applying for a Child Employment Permit. Topics covered include:

    • who applies for a Child Employment Permit
    • the employer on the permit
    • Blanket and Supplementary Permits
    • agents
    • Working with Children Checks
    • timeframes
    • cost
    • information to be provided with an application
    • activities included in employment
    • communication plan
    • checklist for provision of information.       

    Key points

    • A child under the age of 15 years cannot be employed without a Child Employment Permit issued in the child’s name.
    • The permit application is to be made by the prospective employer.
      • In addition, once provided with information about the proposed employment, the parent or guardian of a child must complete a Parental Consent Form to consent.
      • The principal of the child’s school must also complete a school exemption form if in agreement to the child working during school hours.
      • The permit application is submitted online on the child employment portal to a Child Employment Officer for determination.
      • When completing the online application, details of the child and others must be entered accurately, as they would appear on their birth certificate or other legal document.
      • A parent information sheet must be provided to the parent of the child.

    More information

    • A permit application applies to the employment of a child by a particular employer for a specific activity or job.
      For example, if the child performs in two theatrical productions, with two separate employers, then a separate permit will be required for each one.
    • The employer is the person who engages the child under a contract of service (whether written or unwritten) or other arrangement.

    The employer may also be the person benefitting from the child’s work, whether or not it is also performed for the benefit of another.

    In many cases within the entertainment industry there could be a number of parties who could fit this definition.

    The employer named on the permit application is required to meet the conditions of the permit.

    This does not however negate the responsibilities of the other parties to ensure the requirements of the Code are met.

    Example

    A child is employed to appear in a television commercial. The advertising agency, which arranged to engage the child, was named as the employer on the application for the Child Employment Permit.

    The person identified as company representative on the application was the person who had sufficient knowledge to provide Child Employment Officers with details of the action and the environment. This person had sufficient authority to ensure legal requirements were met on the day.

    During the filming of the commercial, there were other parties involved, including the production company and the client. Both of these other parties also carry responsibilities under the Code as employers.

  • What are Blanket Permits?

    An employer in the entertainment industry may wish to engage a particular child for multiple engagements over a 12- to 24-month period.

    If the proposed employment relates to the same form of entertainment or the same type of work (for example, a photography studio working with the same child throughout the year across several different catalogues), the employer may apply for a Blanket Permit to cover multiple occasions of employment within a 12-month period. If the proposed work is going to occur during school hours, each engagement must fit the following criteria:

    • maximum of 2 hours duration
    • maximum of 8 engagements in each school term.

    Once a Blanket Permit is in place, including the corresponding parental consent and school exemption, the employer simply applies for a Supplementary Permit prior to each proposed engagement.

  • A Supplementary Permit is to be used when a Blanket Permit has been issued for a fixed period and allows for additional information to be provided about each individual instance of employment, prior to the engagement commencing.

    This application for a Supplementary Permit must be submitted with sufficient time for assessment by a Child Employment Officer and issued prior to a child commencing employment.

  • What is the role of an agent?

    In the entertainment industry, children often have an agent to arrange their employment. The agent is not the employer for the purpose of child employment regulation. Rather, the agent acts as a representative of the child.

    In some cases, an agent may assist in the permit application process through the transfer of information and documentation.

  • How long does it take for a permit to be granted?

    This varies, depending on the complexity of the application. If the application is fully completed and error-free, there are not large numbers of children involved, it is not a high-risk activity/environment and no special investigations need to be undertaken, permits can usually be granted with a few days’ notice.

  • What will it cost me to comply with these requirements?

    An application for a Child Employment Permit is free. The only cost is for the WWC Check. For current fees:

  • What information must I provide with a permit application?

    The type of information you are required to provide in support of an application for a Child Employment Permit will vary considerably depending on the employment being proposed. In assessing an application for a permit, a Child Employment Officer must be satisfied that the health, safety, education, and moral and material welfare of the child will not suffer as a result of the employment. Examples of information (known as assessment material) that must be provided if relevant to the particular job include:

    • scripts
    • storyboards
    • details of the product being advertised
    • details of the action involved in the production
    • details of what will be required of the child
    • details of the environment in which the work is to be performed
    • details of any props or equipment to be used
    • identification of any risks and actions taken to mitigate the risk
    • safety reports
    • details of other parties involved in the production, such as:
      • client
      • advertising agency
      • production company
      • casting agent.

    In relation to safety reports, there are some smaller productions that do not routinely engage safety supervisors to prepare a safety report.

    If, in assessing the work or the environment, a Child Employment Officer has concerns about a health and safety matter, you may be requested to provide a risk assessment. If the Child Employment Officer is still not satisfied, you may be required to have a safety report prepared. Alternatively, you may be prohibited from employing the child to perform that particular activity or within that particular environment.

  • What activities are required to be covered by a permit?

    Casting walk-ons, and screen tests (call-backs) are not considered employment for purposes of the Act, and a Child Employment Permit is not required for these activities. The exception to this is if the result of the screen test could be used by the employer, for example, a child auditions for a television talent show and the footage from the audition is used as part of the broadcast or content on any media channel.

    All other activities, including the following, are considered to be employment and therefore a permit is required to cover these activities:

    • wardrobe fittings
    • rehearsals
    • shoots
    • promotional activities
    • sound recording sessions
    • re-shoots.
  • I often don’t cast children until very late in the pre-production process. How can I be sure that I will get permits in time?

    The casting of the talent is often one of the very last things that is considered and finalised in the pre-production phase. If you are planning on employing 20 extras for a production, your chances of having the applications accepted and the permits issued in time will be greatly improved if you have already sent the script, safety report and schedule well ahead of time.

    The key to success is ongoing communication with Child Employment Officers from the start of the project. This is likely to be many weeks, or sometimes months, prior to the production commencing. As soon as it is known that children are to be employed, whatever information is available at that stage should be provided to Child Employment Officers.

    What do I put on the application form if the date of the shoot could be moved depending on the weather?

    If the location means that the shoot is weather-dependent, you can put a range of potential dates to allow for a weather hold. In all cases you are required to notify a Child Employment Officer of the specific and actual dates and times of the employment of the child.

    Can work start when a permit has been applied for but before it is issued?

    No. This would be a breach of the Act. Work cannot commence before a permit has been issued. You must have a copy of the permit at the workplace at all times that the child is working.

    Can permits be applied for and granted after work has been performed?

    No. This would be a breach of the Act. Work cannot take place unless a permit has been issued. Permits cannot be issued retrospectively.

  • Prior to a child starting work an employer must ensure they have received written consent from the child’s parent. Under the law, employers must provide parents with their details including:

    • contact information
    • company representative
    • details of the proposed employment
    • the role and duties that the child will perform
    • the hours of work
    • the workplace.

    A parental consent form is auto-populated as part of the online permit application. The option to print it is available on the final screen of the online submission process on the child employment portal. Once printed it is to be provided to the parent for their information, so they can consider and then provide written consent.

  • Key points:

    • A Working with Children Check (WWC Check) is not the same thing as a Child Employment Permit. They are separate requirements.
    • Anyone who directly supervises a child is required to hold a current WWC Check. It must be an employee ‘E’ card and not a volunteer ‘V’ card.
    • Parents, guardians and extended family members are exempt from the WWC Check, as are registered Victorian teachers and Victoria Police officers.
    • Some employers have chosen to have an entire crew undergo the WWC Check, which provides flexibility in who can supervise a child.
    • An employer of a child must ensure that a child is directly and adequately supervised at all times. A supervisor should be provided with appropriate training. In particular, the supervisor should be trained to recognise health and safety hazards including teasing, bullying and harassment.

    More information:

    • It should be noted that other exemptions that appear in the Working with Children Act (WWC Act) may not apply in the case of supervisors of children under the Act.
      An example of this is a supervisor of a child under 15 years who undertakes work experience as part of their secondary school program.
      • The exemption stated in the WWC Act is not an exemption under the CE Act. If the child is under 15 years, a WWC Check will be necessary. Check with a Child Employment Officer if you are unsure.

    Case study

    Twelve-year-old Matt, through his parents, responds to a casting call for a role in a feature film. He is asked to perform a quick 2-minute scene and is offered the role.

    He is told the scene will involve him hanging out with a group of friends, and “just mucking around”, as teenagers do. Matt and his mother are very excited. They are given a contract and provided with the details for the shoot. The big day comes, and Matt arrives at the location, prepared to play his role. Hair, make-up and wardrobe are all done, and he is introduced to fellow cast members.

    It soon becomes apparent that the scene involves the portrayal of a group of teenagers drinking alcohol, and becoming drunk and aggressive. Matt’s mother is not comfortable with her son playing this role. She suffered at the hands of an abusive, alcoholic father for most of her childhood and has very strong views about alcohol consumption. She demands to see the director and asks that her son not be portrayed in that way. Despite being sympathetic, this was the scene for which they required Matt. The mother advises that she will take her son home.

    If the employer had been clear and transparent and had fully complied with the requirement to provide the parent with sufficient information about the role, then the mother could have made an informed decision about her son’s involvement during the casting process. Instead, everyone wasted a great deal of time, and the employer will need to abandon the shoot until it can cast another person for the role.

  • Pre-production:

    Stage 1 (1–6 months prior to shoot)

    Information available at this stage to be provided:

    • script, storyboard, layout or scenario
    • details of potential supervisors
    • if Working with Children Checks (WWC Checks) are not available for all people who are to be appointed as supervisors (except for parents, guardians and extended family members), arrange for applications to be made, including details of the employer details of the nature of the work including talent age groups; number of children; what is required of the children in the script; size of production; whether a safety report is required; how many talent are leads, featured or extras
    • schedule draft including proposed dates for casting walk-ons, screen tests (call-backs), wardrobe fittings, rehearsals, shoots and sound recording sessions.

    Production commences

    Stage 2 (1–4 weeks prior to shoot)

    • details of other parties including photographer, production company, casting agent and sound studios
    • details of the actual shoot including location, shoot date and proposed number of hours for each child safety report, names and ages of lead talent if available at this stage
    • actual times for wardrobe fittings.

    Shoot details confirmed

    Stage 3 (4–7 days prior to shoot)

    • confirmation of all other details previously provided
    • online applications for Child Employment Permit
    • actual call times and hours of work for each child
    • confirmation of locations
    • safety report (if not provided earlier)
    • travel arrangements for children.

    Further work

    Stage 4

    • call sheet with specific days and times
    • if weather interrupted the shoot and/or further shooting is to be done (which was already provided for in the permit), notify Child Employment Officers
    • if alternative dates were not provided in the permit, discuss changes or additional days with a Child Employment Officer.

    Activities that constitute employment

    The following activities are considered employment for the purposes of the Act and a Child Employment Permit is required for these activities:

    • wardrobe fittings
    • rehearsals
    • shoots
    • sound recording sessions
    • re-shoots
    • publicity, promotion and media events
    • online content including social media.

    Activities not considered to be employment and therefore a permit is not required to cover them, include:

    • casting walk-ons
    • screen tests (call-backs).

    Contact details

    Child Employment Officer
    Wage Inspectorate Victoria
    GPO Box 4912
    Melbourne VIC 3001

    Phone: 1800 287 287

    Website: wageinspectorate.vic.gov.au

    Fax: 03 9651 9703

  • This section sets out the requirements concerning hours of work of children in the entertainment industry. These requirements are prescribed by the Code. Details include:

    • maximum number of hours to be worked
    • Table A and Table B of the Code
    • rest breaks and meal breaks
    • definition of employment hours
    • education – part of employment
    • variations
    • employment records.

    Regulations are in place to govern the hours a child can work to protect their welfare.

    In most cases, employers do not choose to employ children in excess of the hours prescribed by the Code, therefore the rules have little effect on their operations. If there is a particular need, you do have an opportunity to make a written application to a Child Employment Officer to have some of the hours requirements varied. The assessment of the application will require that the health, safety, education, moral and material welfare of the child will not suffer as a result of the variation and that the proposed change is in the best interests of the child.

  • Under the provisions of the Code, how many hours per week can a child be employed?

    The majority of children in the entertainment industry are employed for short-term engagements – many for just a couple of hours to model for stills photography or for one or two days for a television commercial. Hours of work are usually not of concern in these instances.

    For a small number of children, however, an engagement can be a much bigger commitment. It is especially in these cases that consideration needs to be given to the hours and how they are arranged, together with the educational needs of the child.

    Part 4 of the Code sets out requirements relating to employment hours a child can be employed to work. Table A and Table B of the Code contain:

    • the maximum daily hours of employment
    • the maximum days of employment per week
    • the maximum number of consecutive days of employment
    • the hours within which the employment can occur.

    These are all determined in accordance with the age of the child and are discussed in more detail later in this section.

    Table A and Table B of the Code

    Table A applies to children undertaking the following employment activity:

    • working in radio, television, film or internet program or production
    • appearing in promotional events or advertising
    • working as a photographic subject (still or moving)
    • modelling
    • performing in a shopping centre
    • taking part in a performance that is recorded for use in a subsequent entertainment or exhibition
    • taking part in preparatory activities to these forms of entertainment
    • any form of other entertainment not covered by Table B.

    Table B applies to children working in:

    • musical theatre
    • plays
    • operas
    • other live entertainment
    • a circus, or in relation to a circus; and
    • taking part in preparatory activities associated with these forms of entertainment.
    Table A
    Age Maximum number of days of employment in any week Spread of hours Maximum employment hours per day Maximum number of consecutive days of employment
    Under 3 years 3 6am-6pm     4 hours 3
    3 years and under 8 years 4 6am-11pm* 6 hours** 4
    8 years and under 15 years 5 6am-11pm* 8 hours** 5

    * A child cannot work beyond 9pm if they are required to attend school on the morning of the following day.

    ** A child cannot work for more than 4 hours on any day on which they attend school for 3 hours or more.

    Age Maximum number of days of employment in any week Spread of hours Maximum employment hours per day Maximum number of consecutive days of employment
    Under 2 years 1 9am-6pm 4 hours 1
    2 years and under 6 years 3 9am-6pm 4 hours 3
    6 years and under 10 years 4 9am-10pm* 4 hours 4
    10 years and under 12 years 4 9am-11pm* 6 hours** 4
    12 years and under 15 years 5 9am-11pm* 8 hours**
     
    4

    * A child cannot work beyond 9pm if they are required to attend school on the morning of the following day.

    ** A child cannot work for more than 4 hours on any day on which they attend school for 3 hours or more.

    Hours requirements – key points

    Hours in accord with Table A and Table B with overall maximum of 40 hours per week including hours required to fulfil educational requirements:

    • one shift per day
    • 10-minute rest break every hour
    • 45-minute meal break every five hours but no later than 1pm (not counted as time worked)
    • travelling time in excess of one hour each way counted as time worked
    • travelling time must be within the allowable starting and finishing times
    • maximum of four hours work on a day in which the child attends at least half a day at school
    • no later than a 9 pm finish if the child is required to attend school the following morning
    • a week is defined as seven days, Monday to Sunday or, alternatively, the standard working week arrangement applied by the employer.

    Hours to fulfil educational requirements – key points

    Hours in accord with Table A and Table B with overall maximum of 40 hours per week including hours required to fulfil educational requirements:

    • granted exemption from school
    • tutoring hours stipulated by school
    • granted exemption but no tutoring stipulation by school – over nine days absence from school with one employer, two hours per day tutoring
    • no exemption granted from school – attend school full time (counted as four hours per day of education for the purpose of calculating combined education and employment).
  • What rest and meal breaks do I have to provide to a child?

    Time worked Rest period Requirements
    Each hour 10 minutes’ rest Child may remain in the workplace, but they must be a genuine break from the activity they are engaged in.
    Every 5 hours 45 minutes for a meal break

    Meal break must not be later than 1pmif the child started work before 10am.

    Must be free time, not for rehearsal, learning lines or education.

    This time does not count towards the child’s employment hours.

    Between shifts Minimum 12-hour break between shifts

    This refers to the time between ending work on one day and starting work the following day regardless of whether it is with the same or another employer.

    Parents must advise an employer if their child has not had a 12-hour break since finishing work the previous day.

    Case study

    Chloe works for six hours on a particular day. She works in the afternoon and evening as darkness is required for the particular scene being shot. She finishes at 10pm. On the following day Chloe is not permitted to commence employment until at least 10am, to allow for a 12-hour break. Chloe’s parent should advise a prospective employer of her lack of availability prior to 10am.

  • Employment hours

    Activities included in the calculation of employment hours:

    • travelling time to and from work in excess of one hour each way
    • all time at the workplace, if employer is transporting child
    • hair and make up
    • wardrobe calls.
  • Is the time spent on education counted as the combined employment and education hours?

    Yes. A child may only take part in a maximum 40 hours per week of combined employment and education (depending on the age of the child). Once the education hours requirement has been determined, the remaining hours are what a child can work in that week, ensuring that the daily maximums are also complied with. The education hours are determined by the extent of the exemption granted by the school, school attendance and the tutoring requirements.

    More information

    Please refer to Table A and Table B in the Code to assist you to determine how many hours per day and engagements per week you can engage a child, according to their age.

    You need to be aware that if a child is exempted from school (as a result of missing more than nine days of school) the obligation for tutoring will apply. If the child then attends school one or two days per week, despite the exemption, this does not reduce the obligation to provide 10 hours tutoring per week. Each day at school counts as four hours education for the purpose of the combined employment/ education maximum weekly hours.

    If a child is not absent from school and therefore there is no exemption, the maximum weekly hours available for work are 20 hours, subject to the maximum daily hours and days per week in Table A and B.

    Case study

    Jerry is a 13-year-old who is cast for a role in a feature film. Jerry’s parents apply for an exemption from his school. The exemption is granted in full on condition that Jerry undertakes 1.5 hours of tutoring per day, with a focus on maths and literacy. Jerry can therefore work on the film for 32.5 hours per week.

    Education hours

    Tutoring                                               7.5 hours per week

    Schooling                                            Nil

    Employment hours

    TABLE A and clause 22                     40 hours per week

    Employment hours (40) less education hours (7.5)

    =                                                          TOTAL WORK

    HOURS AVAILABLE                          32.5 hours per week

    Case study

    Amy is seven years of age and is cast in a main role of a live theatre production of Alice in Wonderland. The rehearsal period will run for approximately four weeks and her school exemption requires that she do one hour of tutoring each day that she is absent from school, which will be four days per week. Amy is able to work 12 hours per week on the theatre production.

    Education hours

    Tutoring                                               4 hours per week

    Schooling                                            4 hours per week*

    TOTAL                                                 8 hours per week       

    Employment hours

    TABLE B –

    No. of days per week                          4 days employment in a week

    No. of hours per day                           4 hours

    =                                                          16 hours per week

    Employment hours (16) plus education hours (8)

    =                                                          TOTAL WORK

    HOURS AVAILABLE                          16 hours per week**

    *        a school day is calculated as 4 hours for the purposes of calculating combined education and employment hours.

    **       the work hours do not need to have the education hours deducted in this example as they will not exceed 40 as a combined total.

  • Can I apply for a variation to the hours requirements?

    Key points:

    • If you are considering an application, you must first seek approval from the parent of the child.
    • You will need to make a written application outlining the reason for a proposed variation in hours for a child to work (this is explained in Clause 26 of the Code).
    • As the Code has been developed to protect the interests of children, the application will need to explain how the variation would be in the best interests of the child.
    • Please provide sufficient time for a Child Employment Officer to assess the merits of the application.
    • The application for variation could relate to a single instance or could apply to a production on an ongoing basis.

    More information

    • If approval to vary working hours is granted, it will be in writing and may contain conditions. It is important that you not proceed with employing the child until you have received a written approval.
    • Approval will not be granted retrospectively under any circumstances.
    • A copy of the written approval must be held with other employment records.
    • In the ordinary course of events an application for a variation will only be considered during normal business hours. If there is an urgent need for a variation to be considered outside business hours, you should ring the emergency line on 03 9651 9831.
    • Variations allowable under the Code are restricted to clauses 22–25.
  • You must keep the following records:

    • the times, hours and dates that the child worked
    • the location at which the child worked on each occasion
    • the person/s who supervised the child in each instance and their WWC Check number
    • the times and hours the child received tutoring
    • the subject matter covered by the tutoring
    • the Child Employment Permit (this must be accessible at the workplace of the child)
    • the Parental Consent Form
    • the School Exemption Form (if applicable).

    These records must be maintained for 12 months from the last entry with the exception of the permit which must be maintained until its expiry.

    Information needed before employing a child

    • names and contact details (residential address and all relevant telephone numbers) of the child and parent or guardian
    • contact details for any other person authorised to consent to medical treatment for the child
    • consent for employer to seek or administer medical treatment as appropriate
    • name and contact details of who is to be notified in case of injury or illness
    • allergies, medical conditions and any dietary restrictions of the child
    • name and contact details of person authorised to collect the child.

    More information

    • A Child Employment Information Form template is available at Business Victoria to help employers collect the above information. This form is not mandatory to use, and you may choose to keep the specified information in another form.
    • The Commonwealth Fair Work Act 2009 and awards and many agreements made under this Act prescribe record-keeping requirements, which in most cases include many of the components specified above.
    • It’s a good idea to create a format for your record-keeping that meets all of your obligations rather than maintaining a number of separate records.
    • A copy of the Child Employment Permit must be accessible at the child’s workplace and maintained as a record until it expires.
  • This section explains the educational needs of children. It details the method of determining hours of schooling as well as the requirements for tutoring. Topics covered include:

    • determination of schooling hours
    • school exemption process
    • provision of tutors
    • facilities to be provided for schooling.

    Key points:

    • The education hours required for a child are determined according to the exemption from school attendance granted by the school and any stipulation prescribed as a condition of the exemption.
    • In the absence of an exemption, a day of attendance at school is counted as four hours for the purposes of calculating combined employment and education hours.

    School exemption process

    • If the child attends a Victorian school, the child’s parent or guardian is required to apply for an exemption for the child to be absent from school when the employment is to take place during school hours.
      • This is a separate process to the application for a Child Employment Permit. (This is available to print on the final screen of the online permit submission process on the child employment portal or on the website www.business.vic.gov.au/childemployment).
    • In considering the exemption application, the child’s school principal will consider the educational needs of the child and may propose tutoring requirements. This could range from no tutoring requirement at all (perhaps in a case where the child was going to miss a minimal amount of schooling) to a requirement that a child complete a fixed number of hours of tutoring each week. It might also include specifics about subjects to be covered.
    • The duration of proposed absences and timeframes for employment activity will be considered in determining an application for exemption. (Most applications in the entertainment industry arise with short notice, relate to time-critical employment activity and involve short periods of absence from school attendance).

    Tutoring

    A tutor is used:

    • Where a child has been exempted from attending school, his or her school may specify the number of hours of tutoring they should receive. In this case, the employer must engage a tutor to deliver to the child the specified number of hours of education.
    • Where a child has been exempted from attending school without the school having specified the number of hours of tutoring the employer must engage a tutor once the child has been absent from school for the equivalent of nine days in any one school term.
      • The tutor must be engaged to deliver to the child a minimum of 2 hours of tutoring per day (or an average of two hours of education per day over five days or four weeks).
    • Where a child has not been exempted from attending school, the child is permitted to work a maximum number of hours based on their age as shown in Table A or B, less four hours per day for attendance at school.
    Exemption process Schooling requirement
    School exemption granted – conditional as conditions specify
    School exemption granted – unconditional after 9 days of school granted - missed in a term, 2 hours per day
    No exemption full-time attendance at school

    More information

    • You must engage a tutor if there is a tutoring requirement set by the school or if there is no requirement and the child will be absent from school for more than nine days in a term.
    • Once the requirement for tutoring has commenced the tutoring must continue until the employment ceases.
    • The tutor must be a registered teacher and be appropriately qualified.
    • Tutoring will usually take place during normal working or school hours and be done by the tutor engaged by the employer. However, in some cases, the employer and the child’s parent or guardian may agree that tutoring will take place outside of working hours. The child’s parent or guardian may then engage the tutor.

    It should be noted that these hours are still counted toward the combined employment and education hours for the child.

    If such an arrangement is made, the tutor may be paid by the parent or guardian, who will be reimbursed by the employer.

    • The employer is only obliged to reimburse the parent or guardian for the tutoring hours required as specified in the Code.

    Case study

    A children’s television series involves 8 children on a long-term basis. They have all been set tutoring requirements by their schools and a tutor is to be engaged to meet those requirements. Six of the children are aged between 12 and 14 years and 2 of them are 6-year-olds. The tutor’s qualifications would need to be appropriate to the educational level of the children involved.

    Facilities to be provided for schooling

    • The Code requires employers to provide the tutor with the opportunity to develop an education plan in consultation with the child’s school. This normally involves the tutor being allocated time to visit the child’s school and meet with the class teacher or school principal and develop an education plan to meet the needs of the child.

    • There is usually ongoing liaison during the course of the employment to monitor progress and vary the plan as required.

    • An employer must provide dedicated facilities of sufficient size and quality for the child’s education. This means the tutor and the children have exclusive access to enable appropriate education to be provided without distraction.

    • The facility dedicated to the child’s education must have the necessary equipment and space for the number of children who will use it at any time. For example, a small trailer on location would be insufficient for a group of 10 children who all had daily tutoring requirements. Similarly, a corner of a green room set up with a couple of desks and chairs would not meet the ‘dedicated facility’ requirement.

    • Generally, the facility should be a ‘no-go zone’ for all production staff other than the children and tutor.

  • This section of The Guide details many of the provisions of the Code that relate to the workplace and conditions that must be met. Topics covered include:

    • occupational health and safety responsibilities
    • employer to attend the workplace
    • food and drink
    • other facilities
    • protection from the elements
    • travel home arrangements for children
    • contact and medical details form
    • adult themes
    • nudity
    • special requirements for babies
    • supervision requirements.

    Occupational health and safety (OHS) responsibilities

    Key points:

    • Everyone has a responsibility to provide a safe workplace, regardless of whether or not children are present. This includes employers, occupiers, sub-contractors and employees.
    • The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (OHS Act) requires that employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health to both employees and non-employees. This includes children.
    • When deciding what is reasonably practicable to maintain a healthy and safe workplace,
    • you should identify hazards and manage risks. An assessment of occupational health and safety issues in your workplace should take into account the presence of young children, the work environment and their physical and mental capabilities.
    • Within the entertainment industry, a safety consultant is often engaged to conduct
    • the risk assessment. Irrespective of who completes the report, a copy should always be provided to Child Employment Officers as part of the assessment material to accompany an application for a Child Employment Permit.
    • You should be aware that as the employer, you remain responsible for the risk assessment and risk controls.
    • A safety consultant is often used on sets where there is a greater than usual risk involved, such as a scene involving water or stunts.
    • In addition, the Code sets out some special provisions that take into account both the specifics of the industry and the physical and emotional maturity of children under the age of 15 years.

    More information:

    • The responsibilities to provide a safe workplace are outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (OHS Act) and its Regulations (OHS Regulations).
    • If the employer or company representative named on the permit is not in attendance at the workplace of the child, this does not change the employer’s obligations under the permit.
    • If you are named as the employer or company representative on the permit, but are not able to attend the workplace, there should be another person at the workplace who has delegated authority to carry out your responsibilities. This person would need to be fully briefed on the role and the details of the permit.
    • Employers should note that child supervisors who are not the named employer representative on the permit do not assume the other responsibilities of the employer.

    What are some of the responsibilities of an employer?

    The employer has a range of responsibilities under the Act and CE Regulations, as well as the Code. Here are some examples.

    An employer must:

    • employ a child in accordance with a permit
    • in the application process, provide accurate details and provide any further information requested by a Child Employment Officer
    • comply with any special conditions of the permit
    • ensure a child is engaged in light work only
    • not allow a child to work if known to be ill or unfit for work
    • ensure the child is under the direct supervision of an appointed supervisor with a valid WWC Check
    • ensure the supervisor is not given additional duties that compromise his
    • or her ability to provide direct supervision
    • comply with all of the hours requirements and rest break provisions stipulated under the Code
    • keep records in relation to the dates, hours and locations worked by a child
    • obtain contact details and medical information (as specified by the Code) prior to a child working
    • provide facilities as specified by the Code
    • provide tutoring as specified by the Code
    • facilitate contact between the child and parent or guardian when requested
    • allow the child’s parent or guardian to be at the workplace when the child is present
    • ensure all conditions of the permit are observed.
  • What food and drink am I required to provide?

    You must ensure that water and other suitable drinks are available at all times to a child at the workplace. You should also ensure the child has access to more substantial (nutritious) food at reasonable hours. Always consider the child’s age, taste, culture and dietary restrictions.

    It is obviously essential to know if a child has a medical condition or has food allergies of any description. This provision reinforces the need for you to meet your obligations under Clause 7 of the Code, regarding the collection of personal information in the form of medical details for the child.

    Example

    You may find sushi delicious, as might many of the other adult cast and crew, but many six-year-olds would not. On the other hand, many 6-year-olds would be happy to feast on a bowl of lollypops for lunch, but this would not be the best option nutritionally. A hot prepared meal or some healthy sandwiches would be better.

  • Key things to consider:

    • You must ensure that the following facilities are available at the workplace:
      • dedicated space for the child’s tuition
      • recreational materials and rest facilities
      • dressing room facilities that enable
      • the child to dress and undress in private
      • clean and accessible toilets and
      • hand-washing and hand-drying facilities.

    Facilities should be appropriate to the age and needs of each child who is to use them. The length of the engagement of the child will be a consideration in determining appropriate materials. It is your responsibility to ensure that a child, while at work, is adequately clothed and protected from the elements. This includes ensuring that the temperature in the workplace is comfortable. If a child is working outdoors you must ensure the child is adequately protected from the sun, wind, rain, dust and any other conditions which could be harmful.

    Example

    If you are a photographer shooting a swimwear catalogue at a beach location in winter, you will need to consider arranging shelter or ensuring the location has shelter and also ensure that the child is kept warm throughout the shoot. Conversely, in summer, you need to ensure a child involved in such a shoot is wearing appropriate sunscreen, is kept well hydrated and protected from the sun.

  • Do I have to arrange travel home for children?

    Age of the child Employer’s obligation
    A child under 13 years You must ensure that any child under 13 years is collected or taken home after finishing work by a parent or guardian or other person listed on the Child Information Form by the parent or guardian to take the child home.
    A child of 13 years or over

    The same requirement applies as for a child under 13 years unless the following criteria can be met, in which case the child may travel home independently. The criteria are:

    • the child lives within 10km of the work location and will reach home within daylight or prior to 6pm (whichever is earlier)
    • the parent of the child has provided the employer with written consent allowing the child to travel home alone, so long as the child reaches home by 8.30pm.

    It is advisable to discuss travel arrangements with parents or guardians prior to the day of the proposed employment in order to avoid any confusion on the day. This is particularly the case if the parent or guardian is not going to remain with the child during the employment period.

  • What do I need to know about medical issues?

    • You must not allow a child to work whom you know to be ill or unfit for work.
    • If a child becomes sick or is injured while at work, you must immediately notify the child’s parents or guardian or another person who is nominated by the parent or guardian if the child’s parent is not contactable.
    • The Code requires you to obtain contact and medical details from the child’s parent prior to employment commencing. A model Child Employment Information Form can be downloaded from www.business.vic.gov.au/childemployment or can be requested from a Child Employment Officer.
    • This form should be held at the immediate workplace of the child together with the Child Employment Permit so that it can be accessed in an emergency.
    • You should also be aware of your occupational health and safety duty to report work injuries to the Victorian WorkCover Authority.
    • The child’s parent must advise you what is to be done with the Child Information Form when the required retention period has elapsed. The options are: return to parent, destroy or retain in a secure manner in your files in anticipation of future employment of the child. These details are contained in the model Child Information Form.
    • You should ensure that the child’s parent or guardian is provided with your contact details and those of the child’s direct supervisor for emergency contact purposes, for example to notify you if the child is unable to attend work.

    Are there any requirements about parental contact for the child?

    • In most cases it is beneficial and practical to have a parent or guardian present while a child works.
    • The Code requires you to allow a parent or guardian to be present at a workplace at all times that the child is there.
    • You may exclude a parent or guardian from a particular area or from direct contact with the child for a period only when necessary to ensure that the production is not disrupted or to protect the health and safety of any person present.
    • You should be aware that if a child requests contact with the parent or guardian or some other person you must do whatever is necessary to ensure that such contact is made.
    • If a child’s employment necessitates the child being away from home overnight, and the parent is to accompany the child, you are required to provide appropriate accommodation for the child and the parent or guardian of the child.
  • Can a child be involved in a production or role involving adult themes?

    • You must ensure that no child is cast in a role or situation that is inappropriate, having regard to their age, maturity, emotional or psychological development and sensitivity.
    • If you have any queries about a particular casting or scene you should seek advice from a Child Employment Officer. In some instances, you may be directed to brief and debrief a child in relation to the content of a particular scene in addition to ongoing monitoring.
    • You are not permitted to expose a child to a scene or situation that is likely to cause them embarrassment or distress.
    • You must not make a child distressed intentionally in order to get a more realistic depiction of a particular emotion or reaction.

    Example

    If a scene requires a child to scream, the child should be coached to do this. The scream should not be created by making the child fearful.

  • You are not permitted to employ a child in any situation in which they or any other person in their presence is naked unless:

    • the child is under 12 months old; and
    • you have the written consent of their parent; and
    • the parent will be present for the whole period that the child or the other person is naked.
  • What needs to be done if I want to engage a baby?

    Engaging a baby for one hour or less: Engaging a baby for more than one hour:
    • the parent or guardian must be present at all times
    • you must have received advice from the parent that the baby:
      • was delivered at full term and in good health
      • weighed at least 3kg at birth
      • has no post-natal problems
      • is feeding successfully
      • has had satisfactory weight gain from birth.

    While you are not required to include this information in a Child Employment Permit application, it is in your interest to request that the parent confirm these details for you in writing.

    • a registered nurse, registered midwife or registered maternal and child health nurse must be present for the whole time
    • the parent or guardian must be present for the whole time
    • the nurse must advise you that:
      • the baby is fit for employment
      • the environment in which employment is to take place is unlikely to cause the baby distress
      • you must follow all advice of the nurse in relation to the welfare of the baby.

    A nurse may consider getting a certificate from a general practitioner declaring the baby fit for the proposed employment.

    As an employer, you are advised to receive this advice from the nurse in writing, so that you can later confirm that you did receive it. Again, there is no requirement to include this with the application for the permit, but you may need to establish it at a later date.

    Some other requirements include:

    • a baby must not be exposed to harmful lighting
    • no make-up is to be applied to a baby unless it is non-irritating and uncontaminated
    • a person who is known to have an infectious condition must not come into contact with a baby.

    What might be the environmental considerations relating to the engagement of babies?

    In addition to meeting the requirements above you should also consider other issues when engaging babies. These might include:

    • restricting the handling of a baby from one person to another
    • ensuring there is an appropriate facility provided for breastfeeding or storage of expressed or formula milk
    • ensuring there are appropriate facilities for nappy-changing
    • ensuring there are appropriate areas for the baby to sleep
    • controlling noise levels.
  • To what extent do I need to supervise children?

    The first thing the Code stipulates about your obligations in relation to supervision is that each child is to be provided with direct and adequate supervision. When establishing what might be considered adequate, consider:

    • the age of the child
    • the sex of the child
    • the degree of maturity of the child
    • the number of children in employment at one time.

    The Education and Care Services National Regulations sets out staff to child ratios in a child care service. While these do not apply in a child employment scenario, they may be referred to for guidance.

    Further important supervision requirements:

    • You can only give other tasks to a supervisor to the extent that they do not compromise the supervisor’s ability to provide direct supervision to a child.
    • The only people who can directly supervise children are those appointed by the employer to supervise and who have a valid WWC Check.
    • You should record the WWC Check number of all supervision staff.
    • Your employees with a WWC Check are legally required to notify the Department of Justice that you are their employer so that communications can take place with you, if necessary.
    • A supervisor who is a parent or extended family member is exempt from the requirement for a WWC Check.
    • Direct supervision involves physical proximity to a child and therefore the capacity to oversee and control what the child is doing.
    • A parent can be a supervisor, as the table below indicates.
      • It needs to be understood that the parent is not taking on your responsibilities
      • as an employer but rather accepts the role at the workplace of providing direct supervision of his or her child.
      • A parent cannot be compelled to take this role; it is the parent’s choice. If the parent is not available, then you must appoint another appropriate person (as prescribed).
      • A parent supervisor should be clearly briefed on his or her role and responsibilities in the workplace.

    Example

    Suppose a group of 10 children were required as extras in a film production. If the children were 3-year-olds, one supervisor would be unable to provide adequate supervision to a group of this size, given the amount of attention required by children of this age. If, however, the children were 13 years old, then one supervisor may be able to directly supervise this group.

Reviewed 15 June 2021

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