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Child employment laws and requirements

Familiarise yourself with the laws and avoid breaching the act.

On this page

  • The minumum age for employing children
  • How many hours children can work
  • The rules for family business and farms
  • The penalties for breaching the Act
There are different rules for children employed in the entertainment industry and those employed in industries other than entertainment.  This page contains rules for both so please check carefully.

Is there a minimum age of employment?

Entertainment industry

There is no minimum age of employment in entertainment. There are however 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 then there are particular requirements relating to the supervisor.  The hours of work allowable are dependent on the age of the child (see hours of work). 

All other industries other than entertainment

There is a minimum age of 13 for employment in industries other than entertainment.  There is a minimum age of 11 for children delivering newspapers and advertising material or making deliveries for a registered pharmacist. There is no minimum age for children working in 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.

How many hours can children work?

Entertainment industry

Table A shows the number of hours children can work in entertainment industries that include film, television, radio, advertising, photography, modelling etc.
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
6am - 6pm
4 hours
3 years and under 8 years
4
6am - 11pm
6 hours
8 years and under 15 years
5
6am - 11pm
8 hours

Table B shows the number of hours children can work in entertainment industries that include live entertainment, including musical theatre, operas, plays, circus etc.
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
9am - 6pm
4 hours
2 years and under 6 years 3
9am - 6pm
4 hours
6 years and under 10 years 4
9am - 10pm
4 hours
10 years and under 12 years 4
9am - 11pm
6 hours
12 years and under 15 years 4
9am - 11pm
8 hours
For full details about the number of hours children are able to work in the entertainment industry, look at the Mandatory code for the employment of children in the entertainmnet industry (PDF 716.05 KB)PDF icon

All industries other than entertainment

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

Children employed in industries other than entertainment must:

  • be employed between the hours of 6am and 9pm
  • not be employed between the hours of 6pm and 6am or sunset and sunrise if engaged in street trading
  • 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.  Find application forms for child employment on our forms page.

Family businesses and family farms

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.

Parents are, however, required to directly supervise their children. If this is not to be the case, i.e.. 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, children, schools and the community about the Act and to 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 the 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 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

email: childemployment@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Ph: 1800 287 287