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Rye Summer Carnival operator pleads guilty to child employment charges, fined $6,821

The operator of the Rye Summer Carnival has been fined $6,821 after pleading guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to 9 charges of breaking Victoria’s child employment laws, including to employing a child below the minimum working age.

Published:
Tuesday, 14 May 2024 at 11:15 pm

Wage Inspectorate Victoria, the state’s child employment regulator, began investigating Wittingslow Carnivals Pty Ltd after receiving a tip-off about a 12-year-old working at the Rye Summer Carnival.

Yesterday, Wittingslow Carnivals Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to employing: 

  • 3 children under the age of 15 without a permit on 52 occasions 
  • 3 children later than 9pm on 51 occasions
  • a child below the minimum age of employment on 24 occasions
  • a child for more than 6 hours a day outside school term on 1 occasion
  • a child for more than 30 hours per week outside school term on 4 occasions.

The offences took place between 26 December 2022 and 28 January 2023.

In sentencing, Her Honour Magistrate Howe noted that it is the employer’s responsibility to educate themselves about relevant workplace laws and, that as a fourth-generation family business, ignorance is not an excuse for non-compliance.

Had it not been for an early guilty plea, Her Honour said the fine would have been $18,942.

Quotes attributable to Robert Hortle Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria 

“The only place for a 12-year-old at a carnival is having fun on a ride or hanging out with friends and family. They shouldn’t be working, and it’s no surprise that someone took the time to tip the Wage Inspectorate off about an underage employee.”

“The business’s lack of due diligence about child employment law is ultimately what landed it in court. It only takes 30 seconds on Google to realise you can’t hire a 12-year-old to work at a carnival and that there are a range of workplace protections in place for kids under 15.”

“Kids don’t have the same mental or physical stamina as adults so they can’t work the same hours. A child employment licence ensures the employer has considered a child’s welfare, such as whether they’re getting adequate rest.”

“The Wage Inspectorate is here to help businesses hire kids under 15 safely and legally, because it can be a positive experience for both the child and business. We’d much rather help businesses get it right the first time than take more matters to court or, even worse, see a child hurt.”

Background

In Victoria, a child must be 11 to deliver newspapers and advertising material and 13 for most other types of work.

An employer usually needs a child employment permit or licence to employ someone under 15. Employing a child without a permit or licence is a crime.

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 and have at least 12 hours break between shifts.

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 at wageinspectorate.vic.gov.au.



 

Updated