Red Rooster franchisee served with 355 child employment charges; Cold Rock Ice Creamery franchisee faces 124 charges

Two businesses face criminal charges in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria over alleged breaches of the state’s child employment laws.

Monday, 15 May 2023 at 8:00 pm

Wage Inspectorate Victoria, the state’s child employment watchdog, has filed 355 charges against Wodonga Food Pty Ltd, trading as Red Rooster Wodonga, alleging it contravened the Child Employment Act 2003 by:

  • employing 10 children under the age of 15 without a permit on 168 occasions
  • failing to ensure the children are supervised by someone with a Working with Children Clearance
  • employing children for more hours than they are permitted to work
  • employing children later than 9pm.

The matter has been listed for mention in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 16 May 2023.

The Wage Inspectorate has also filed 124 charges against G & K Pearse Pty Ltd, trading as Cold Rock Shepparton, relating to the employment of 6 children. The charges allege the ice creamery breached the Act by:

  • employing children for more hours than they are permitted to work
  • employing children later than 9pm
  • failing to provide a rest break of at least 30 minutes after every 3 hours work.

The matter has been listed for mention in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 1 June 2023.

The maximum penalty for each of the offences in these matters is 100 penalty units ($18,174 for offences in the 2021-22 financial year and $18,429 for offences in the 2022-23 financial year).

The charges against Red Rooster Wodonga and Cold Rock Shepparton, come shortly after Muffin Break (Southland) was served with 360 criminal charges for alleged child employment breaches.

The Wage Inspectorate will make no further comment on either case while they are before the court.

Quotes attributable to Robert Hortle, Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria

“Victorians will be disappointed to see these household names facing allegations of breaching child employment laws.”

“These are the type of businesses where many kids get their first job, so people rightly expect them to have a strong focus on creating a safe workplace for kids, which is what child employment laws help ensure.”

“Kids under 15 don’t always recognise risks in the workplace and some don’t feel able to speak up when they feel unsafe. Child employment laws help ensure the employer understands the risks and puts measures in place to keep young staff safe.”


Victoria’s child employment laws require employers of children under 15 to obtain a permit from the Wage Inspectorate before any work takes place. This enables the Wage Inspectorate to check that matters like safety, hours of work, rest breaks and supervision are properly considered before employment starts.

Workers under 15 must be supervised by someone who holds a valid Victorian Working with Children Clearance (unless exempt).

Child employment laws restrict when businesses can employ children and how long they can work:

  • during a school term, children can be employed for a maximum of 3 hours a day and 12 hours per week
  • during school holidays, children can be employed up to 6 hours a day and 30 hours a week.
  • children can only work between 6am and 9pm.

Children must also receive a 30-minute rest break after every 3 hours work.

The Wage Inspectorate has commenced 10 child employment prosecutions in the last 18 months. 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.

More information about Victoria’s child employment laws is available on the Wage Inspectorate’s website or by calling 1800 287 287.