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Child employment: Overview

Legally employ children under fifteen.

On this page

  • Overview of requirements
  • What to expect when applying for a permit
  • Follow links to apply
If you are employing children in the entertainment industry there are improvements to the Code of Practice that you need to know about.  Keep up to date with the changes.

Overview of requirements

If you are considering employing someone under the age of 15, you should consider that:

  • to employ a child to do delivery work, the minimum age is 11 years and you will need to apply for a general industries permit
  • to employ a child in other categories of work (e.g. retail or hospitality) the minimum age is 13 years and you will need to apply for a general industries permit
  • there is no minimum age for children working in the entertainment industry.  Children in entertainment have their conditions set down by a Mandatory Code of Practice and you will need to apply for an entertainment industry permit
  • children working in family businesses are exempt from the requirement for a permit
  • once a child turns 15 years a permit is no longer required.

For detailed information about everything listed above look at the child employment laws and requirements.

Applying for a Child Employment Permit

The employment of children under 15 years is regulated by the Child Employment Act 2003 (the Act). The Act aims to protect children from any adverse effects of employment while recognising the benefits which children can gain.

The minimum age of employment in industries other than entertainment is different to those which apply in the entertainment industry. The allowable hours of work and other conditions of employment are also different, as are the procedures for applying for a permit.  

The Act provides for a Permit system which requires an employer to make application prior to the employment commencing. The process is reasonably straightforward and is intended to ensure that appropriate risk assessments have been completed and risks addressed.

Who issues permits?

Child Employment Officers in the Employment Information and Compliance Unit at the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation are authorised to issue child employment permits.

When do you need to have it?

A permit needs to be obtained before employment of a child commences. This means that it must have been applied for and issued by a Child Employment Officer. Merely having applied for the permit is not sufficient to allow you to employ a child.

How long does it take?

Application time can vary and Child Employment Officers can provide advice on the process and time requirements for issuing permits. Enquiring first will ensure you allow sufficient time for permits to be obtained when required.

Record keeping

Employers are required to keep proper records of child employment under Child Employment Permits.

Child Safe Standards

Organisations that employ a child for whom a permit is required under the Child Employment Act 2003 are also required to comply with Child Safe Standards. Visit the Commission for Children and Young People's website for more information. 

Contact a child employment officer


Ph: 1800 287 287