It is alleged that AKQA Pty Ltd (trading as Millipede) contravened section 9(1) of the Child Employment Act 2003 (the Act) by failing to obtain mandatory child employment permits when it allegedly employed children under 15 years of age to work.
It is also alleged the company contravened section 32 of the Act by failing to comply with a Mandatory Code of Practice for children working in the entertainment industry.
The charges relate to the alleged employment of 23 children between January and May 2021. The maximum penalty for each offence is 100 penalty units ($16,522).
The matter has been listed for mention in the Magistrates’ Court in Melbourne on 4 April 2022.
The Wage Inspectorate will make no further comment while the matter is before the court.
In Victoria, employers need a permit before a child under 15 years of age can be employed, although there are some exemptions, such as for children employed in family businesses. Permits are free, and the online application process to receive one is fast and straightforward. Employers can apply online at wageinspectorate.vic.gov.au.
The permit system protects children from work that could harm their health, safety or wellbeing. It enables the Wage Inspectorate to ensure matters like hours of work, rest breaks, supervision and safety are properly considered before employment starts, and to check compliance with any permit conditions that are imposed to keep a child safe.
There is also a Mandatory Code of Practice for the employment of children working in the entertainment industry, which contains industry-specific standards.
The latest court proceedings come on top of other strong action by the Wage Inspectorate to enforce Victoria’s child employment laws.
In October 2021, a travelling circus pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria to breaking child employment laws and was ordered to pay $21,000 in fines and costs, following a prosecution by the Wage Inspectorate. In June 2021, a fashion company was also fined after pleading guilty in court to 5 charges laid 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.
Employers, parents and children can visit wageinspectorate.vic.gov.au for information on child employment or call the Wage Inspectorate’s Helpline on 1800 287 287.
Reviewed 07 March 2022