- Wednesday, 16 August 2023 at 3:12 am
Budsoda Pty Ltd, trading as The Produce Store, plead guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to breaching child employment laws by:
- employing 3 children under the age of 15 without a permit
- failing to ensure employees under 15 are supervised by someone with a Working with Children Clearance
- employing children to work shifts of more than 3 hours during a school term
- employing children to work shifts of more than 6 hours during school holidays
- failing to provide the children a rest break of at least 30 minutes after every 3 hours worked.
This case came to light after the cafe self-reported potential breaches of the Child Employment Act to Wage Inspectorate Victoria. This triggered an investigation in September 2022.
In sentencing, his Honour Magistrate Gattuso said that ignorance of the law is not a defence, but understood there are varying degrees of seriousness, and the business did not intentionally engage in conduct for the purpose of exploiting children.
His Honour in placing the accused on an undertaking, without conviction, noted a fine was usual for matters of this kind, however in this case The Produce Store had self-reported to the Wage Inspectorate, had no prior record of offending, cooperated with the investigation, entered an early guilty plea and was of exceptional character.
The Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria, Robert Hortle, said this case shows the importance of coming forward and cooperating with investigations if you’ve broken the law, rather than trying to avoid detection.
“We’ve seen bigger penalties for lesser offending, so there’s a clear benefit to owning up and getting your house in order.”
“Our officers are out and about, conducting child employment visits across the state, so it’s important to make sure you know the law. We can’t be everywhere, but we can be anywhere,” said the Commissioner.
More information about Victoria’s child employment laws is available on the Wage Inspectorate’s website or by calling 1800 287 287.