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Child employment laws and requirements

Avoid breaching the Act – familiarise yourself with the laws

On this page

  • Find out the minimum age for employing children
  • Learn how many hours children can work
  • Understand the rules for family business and farms
  • Familiarise yourself with the penalties for breaching the Act

Important

There are different rules for children employed in the entertainment and advertising industries, and those employed in industries other than entertainment and advertising. 

This page covers the rules for all industries – make sure you read them carefully.

Entertainment and advertising industries

Is there a minimum age of employment in the entertainment and advertising industries?

There is no minimum age of employment in entertainment or advertising, however there are some particular requirements depending on the child's age:

  • If a baby is under 12 weeks – a registered nurse may be required at the workplace. 
  • If a child is less than 6 years old – there are particular requirements relating to the supervisor.  

The hours of work allowable are dependent on the age of the child – see Table A and B below for details. 

How many hours can children work in the entertainment and advertising industries?

Table A shows the number of hours children can work in the entertainment and advertising industries, such as:

  • film
  • television
  • radio
  • television commercials
  • online commercials
  • photography
  • modelling.

 TABLE A

AGE Maximum number of days of employment in any period of 7 consecutive days Hours during which child may be employed Maximum employment hours per day
Under 3 years 3 6 am to 6 pm 4 hours
3 years and under 8 years 4 6 am to 11 pm 6 hours
8 years and under 15 years 5 6 am to 11 pm 8 hours

How many hours can children work in the live entertainment industries? 

Table B below shows the number of hours children can work in entertainment industries that include live entertainment, such as:

  • musical theatre
  • opera
  • theatre
  • circus
  • bands. 

TABLE B

AGE Maximum number of days of employment in any period of 7 consecutive days Hours during which child may be employed Maximum employment hours per day
Under 2 years 1 9 am to 6 pm 4 hours
2 years and under 6 years 3 9 am to 6 pm 4 hours
6 years and under 10 years 4 9 am to 10 pm 4 hours
10 years and under 12 years 4 9 am to 11 pm 6 hours
12 years and under 15 years 4 9 am to 11 pm 8 hours        

Download and read the documents below to find out the full details about the number of hours children are able to work in the entertainment industry:

The Guide to the Employment of Children in the Victorian Entertainment Industry (PDF 545.23 KB)PDF icon

The Guide to the Employment of Children in the Victorian Entertainment Industry (DOCX 86.82 KB)DOCX icon

Industries other than entertainment

Is there a minimum age of employment in industries other than entertainment?

  • There is a minimum age of 11 years for children delivering newspapers and advertising material, or making deliveries for a registered pharmacist.
  • In other types of work, there is a minimum age of 13 years for employment in industries other than entertainment.
  • There is no minimum age for children working in a family business.
  • Despite popular opinion, 14 years and 9 months is not the minimum age of employment – to be employed without a permit, a child must be 15 years

Under the Child Employment Act 2003, children can be employed for a maximum of 3 hours per day and 12 hours per week during school term and a maximum of 6 hours per day and 30 hours per week during school holidays. These hours are inclusive of rest breaks.

DURING SCHOOL TERM OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL TERM
A maximum of 3 hours per day and 12 hours per week (including rest breaks) A maximum of 6 hours per day and/or 30 hours per week (whichever is earlier)
START AND FINISH TIMES – ALL EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN STREET TRADING  START AND FINISH TIMES – STREET TRADING
Start time no earlier than 6 am 
Finish time no later than 9 pm
Start time no earlier than 6 am or sunrise (whichever is later)
Finish time no later than 6 pm or sunset (whichever is earlier)

Children employed in industries other than entertainment must:

  • receive a minimum rest break of 30 minutes for every 3 hours worked and at least 12 hours break between finishing one shift and commencing the next
  • not be employed during school hours on a school day.

Application can be made to vary the hours and rest breaks via the Child Employment Portal, or offline by downloading the forms below:

Application to vary maximum hours and rest breaks (PDF 577.55 KB)PDF icon

Application to vary maximum hours and rest breaks (DOC 146.5 KB)DOC icon

Family businesses and family farms

In relation to a child, a family business means a business, trade or occupation carried on by a parent or guardian of the child.

Parents/guardians employing their children in a family business or farm are not required to seek a child employment permit to employ their own child, or to observe the general conditions of employment relating to age restrictions, hours of work or rest breaks.

However, parents/guardians are required to directly supervise their children. If this is not to be the case, that is if someone else is appointed as the child's supervisor, then the family business exemption does not apply, and a permit must be applied for.

Even in a family business, parents must observe the restrictions relating to:

  • light and prohibited work*
  • the performance of work during school hours.

*Light work is defined as that which is not likely to be harmful to a child's health, safety development or moral and material welfare. It also must not affect their ability to attend school or their learning capacity.

The role of child employment officers

The role of child employment officers is to: 

  • provide information to employers, parents/guardians, children, schools and the community about the Act
  • investigate applications for permits and ensure compliance with the Act.

Child employment officers have powers to ensure that employers follow the requirements of the Act, as well as observing all related regulations and permit conditions. 

Officers may enter a workplace in order to:

  • inspect and copy records
  • inspect or view work processes
  • interview employees
  • give a direction to stop work if the officer reasonably believes a child is at risk of harm. 

Offences and penalties for breaches of the Child Employment Act

Offences include:

  • obstructing or hindering a child employment officer
  • breaching a permit condition
  • employing or allowing a child to be employed without a permit
  • employing a child without observing the general and/or special conditions of employment
  • employing a child in prohibited employment
  • allowing a person who is not considered to be suitable to have direct supervision or control of a child.

Penalties for these and other offences range from $1000 to $10,000.

Contact a child employment officer 

For further assistance and advice about employing children in Victoria, speak to a child employment officer by calling them on 1800 287 287, or send them an email.

We value your opinion

We welcome any feedback, comments and suggestions you might like to share.

If you own, are looking to purchase, or start a small business with under 20 employees, you may be eligible for our Child Employment Small Business Information Service (CESBIS).

CESBIS offers one-on-one information and advice regarding your responsibilities under the Victoria Child Employment Act.

To access this program, contact the Employment Information and Compliance Unit by giving them a call on 1800 287 287 or sending them an email.