- Friday, 18 August 2023 at 12:49 am
The offence came to light after the pharmacy applied for a child employment permit. When assessing the application, Wage Inspectorate Victoria learned the child had started work under the supervision of their father who was employed as a pharmacist at the pharmacy, before the permit application had been assessed and a permit issued.
The permit system (since replaced by a licence system) protects children from work that could harm their health, safety or wellbeing. It enables the Wage Inspectorate to check that matters like safety, hours of work, rest breaks and supervision are properly considered before employment starts.
In sentencing, her Honour Magistrate Masood stated the Corporate Accused was aware of its legal obligation to apply for a permit and ought to have waited for the permit to be issued before the child commenced work.
Her Honour also stated there is a need in these matters to bear in mind general deterrence – these laws are here to protect children from exploitation and ensure they are safe in the workplace.
In imposing a fine, her Honour did not record a conviction against the company having considered its cooperation with the Wage Inspectorate’s investigation, and its early guilty plea.
Quotes attributable to Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria, Robert Hortle
“Applying for a permit or licence is an important step to complying with child employment laws – it allows us to ensure matters like hours of work, rest breaks, and supervision are considered.”
“If employers fail to apply for a permit or licence, we’re unable to assess the risk of employment to a child and check that their health, safety and welfare will be protected, potentially putting the child at risk.”
“Kids getting their first job at the same place as a parent can be a great experience, but it’s important that the business obtains a permit or licence before the child starts work.”
An employer usually needs a licence to employ someone under 15, whether the work is paid or voluntary. Employing a child without a licence is a crime and may be penalised.
A streamlined child employment licensing system replaced the permit system on 1 July 2023, reducing the burden on business. Where a licence is issued, employers can employ multiple children under one licence, rather than applying for a permit for each child they engage.
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.
Further information can be found at wageinspectorate.vic.gov.au.