- Thursday, 29 June 2023 at 11:11 pm
New child employment laws are now in effect in Victoria, with a modernised and simpler licensing system and stronger penalties to make sure kids under 15 are kept as safe as possible in the workplace.
The state’s child employment watchdog, Wage Inspectorate Victoria, is urging employers to take time to understand the laws, as research exposes common misconceptions about child employment.
Research shows that 33 per cent of Victorians mistakenly believe 14 and 9 months is the age kids can start working and a further 25 per cent believe they have to be 15 to get a job, but provided the employer has a licence, children can do delivery work from 11 and other types of work from 13.
14 and 9 months used to be the age kids could leave school and enter the workforce, which is where this myth has come from, but Victoria’s child employment laws say nothing about being 14 and 9 months and they haven’t for a very long time.
The new laws, designed in consultation with stakeholders and the community, see a licensing system replace a permit system and enables businesses to employ multiple kids under one licence, instead of needing a permit for each child they employ.
The system includes a ‘fit and proper person’ test which considers, among other things, an employer’s compliance with child employment and other relevant workplace laws.
From today, the Wage Inspectorate has stronger powers and the maximum penalty for employing a child without a licence has also increased from $18,500 to more than $200,000.
In addition to obtaining a licence, there are other important rules employers must follow, like making sure kids are getting adequate rest breaks, finishing work by 9pm and not working during school hours.
More information about child employment and the upcoming changes can be found at wageinspectorate.vic.gov.au.
Quotes attributable to Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria Robert Hortle
“Working can provide valuable experience for kids but they’re still developing both mentally and physically and require extra precautions in the workplace.”
“The new system reduces the burden for businesses but not the protection for kids. We’ll still be out there monitoring compliance throughout the state.”
“Tougher penalties show that taking advantage of children in the workplace will not be tolerated. These are serious laws with serious consequences.”
“It’s great to give young workers a go, but it’s important to do so safely.”