When Kids Go To Work: What Every Parent Needs to Know

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Your child’s first job is an important milestone in the life of your family and also your child.   Often, children cannot wait to get out the door to start earning a bit of money and make their mark in the world. However, for parents, it can all be a little daunting with the many rules and restrictions around age and working hours for young children and school children.

This area of law is governed by state legislation which means the rules and regulations may differ from state to state.   This article is intended to provide a summary of the relevant law in Queensland.

Is there a certain age that a child can start working?

In Queensland, the rule of thumb is that a child must be at least 13 years before they can obtain employment[i].  However, like most things, there are exceptions to the rule.

For example, a child is able to carry out supervised delivery work[ii] such as delivering newspapers, advertising material or similar items from the age of 11.

For any parents of potential ‘child stars’ you might be surprised to know that there is no minimum age for children to work in the entertainment industry[iii].  Even young children who are not yet at school (as well as babies) can work in this industry.  There are, however, specific provisions that apply to ensure the protection of children.

What type of work can children do?

The meaning of “work” has a broad definition.

Fortunately for parents, this work does not extend to domestic chores! It also does not include work experience, vocational placements, apprenticeships, traineeships[iv], or work performed in a family business that is totally owned by a close adult relative of the child[v].

Do parents have to do anything?

Parents must provide their consent before a child is able to start working.  They can do so by completing a ‘Parent’s Consent Form’, which can be found on the Department of Justice’s website (www.justice.qld.gov.au).  A new form must be completed and provided to the employer if the child’s school hours change, within 14 days of the change.

Parents should be aware that it is illegal for an employer to employ a child without a signed parent’s consent form or a special circumstances certificate from the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.   It is also illegal for a parent to employ or permit their child to work during school hours unless they have a reasonable excuse.

What hours can a child work?

The maximum hours a child can work depends on whether it is a school day or school week as well as their age.  These are outlined below:

  On a school day (being a day on which the school aged child is required to attend school) On a non school day During a school week (being a week, starting on a Sunday, during which the school aged child is required to attend school) During a non school week
School aged child (being a child who is under 16 and required to be enrolled at school) 4 hours 8 hours 12 hours 38 hours
Young child (being a child who is not old enough to go to school) N/A 4 hours N/A 12 hours

A school aged child: cannot work between the hours of 10pm and 6am; must not have more than one shift on a single day; and must be provided at least a one hour break at the end of the fourth hour unless an industrial instrument provides otherwise.

Children aged between 11 and 13 who are carrying out delivery work cannot work between the hours of 6pm and 6am.

If your child is under 16 years and has completed compulsory schooling – i.e year 10 – then he or she is not considered as a ‘school aged child’ and their working hours will not be limited by the legislation.

What about work in the entertainment industry?

For children working in the entertainment industry, there are also specific regulations about the maximum hours a child can and cannot work, shifts and breaks; and when supervision is required by adult.  For more information you can visit the Queensland Government’s website (www.business.qld.gov.au.)

Are there resources for parents?

Yes!  This can be a very confusing area of law and there is quite a bit of information available on the internet for those wishing to familiarise themselves with all the legalities.  Parents may like to look at the following websites for more information:

www.business.qld.gov.au

www.justice.qld.gov.au

www.legalaid.qld.gov.au

This is very generalised information and you should seek your own independent legal advice if you have specific questions about the effect Child Employment laws may have on you or if you are having issues with your child’s employer.

Hayley Atkinson is a Collaborative Family Lawyer at Brisbane Family Law Centre

www.brisbanefamilylawcentre.com.au | 07 3862 1955

Legislation Cited

[i] Section 4(2)(d) Child Employment Regulation Qld 2006

[ii] Section 4(2)(a) Child Employment Regulation Qld 2006

[iii] Section 4(2)(c) Child Employment Regulation Qld 2006

[iv] Section 8, Child Employment Act Qld 2006

[v] Section 4(1) Child Employment Regulation Qld 2006

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