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Child employment – an overview

Legally employ children under the age of 15

On this page

  • Understand the requirements when employing children
  • Know which permit applies to your situation
  • Learn how to apply for a permit and the processes involved
  • Access further support and resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and new ways of employing children in advertising and entertainment

Victoria’s restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) are prompting the entertainment, promotion and advertising industries to use new and innovative ways to create content. These include shooting video and photographs in the home and using footage from video conference platforms.

If children are engaged to appear or perform in an entertainment or promotional piece, regardless of how it is created, the employer is likely to need child employment permits.

If you are considering including children in any such activities, contact the Wage Inspectorate first, to ensure you are not breaking the law. Concept stage discussions are welcome. Call the information line on 1800 287 287 or email

Please note that this information applies only to those who are employing children within Victoria, Australia.

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.

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.

Overview of requirements

If you're considering employing someone under the age of 15, you'll need to consider the following:

For detailed information about everything listed above, visit our page on child employment laws and requirements.

For further advice and support, contact Employment Information and Compliance by giving them a call on 1800 287 287 or by sending them an email.

Why do I have to apply 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 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.

Are all child employment permits the same?

No – not all child employment permits are the same.

The minimum age of employment in industries other than entertainment is different to those which apply in the entertainment industry.

Entertainment includes children employed in advertising such as modelling for advertising, catalogues, online or television commercials.

The allowable hours of work and other conditions of employment are also different, as are the procedures for applying for a permit.

Who issues permits?

Child employment officers in the Employment Information and Compliance Unit at the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) are authorised to issue child employment permits.

You can get in contact with a child employment officer by calling them on 1800 287 287 or by sending them an email.

If I'm intending to employ children, when do I need to have a permit?

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.

To commence employment without a permit is a criminal offence – and may attract a penalty.

Child employment permit applications and support documents must be lodged a minimum of 72 hours (3 business days)* prior to a child commencing work. Applications received outside of this time frame will be refused.

Application assessments may take longer than 72 hours depending on numbers of children, complexity and demand.  Applicants are encouraged to submit applications as early as possible.

*unless subject to prior agreement with child employment

How do I apply for a child employment permit?

An application can be made by accessing the Child Employment Portal. You'll need to register an account using your email address and by creating a password.

If you'd prefer to download the forms, visit our pages on applying for a child employment permit for the entertainment industry, and industries other than entertainment.

Need help accessing the Child Employment Portal?

For assistance on how to use the Child Employment Portal, contact a child employment officer on 1800 287 287, or send them an email.

How long will it take for an application to be processed?

Child Employment requires a minimum of three (3) business days for all applications.

Keep in mind that the time it takes for an application to be processes can vary. For more complex applications, child employment officers will conduct an assessment of the work, and provide advice on the process and time requirements for issuing permits.

Here's a tip: make an enquiry first by contacting Child Employment to ensure you can allow sufficient time for permits to be obtained when required.

Upcoming project or production?

If you have an upcoming project or production, contact Child Employment on 1800 287 287, or send them an email for further information.

Do I have to keep records?

Employers are required to keep proper records of child employment under Child Employment Permits. Visit our page on how to keep proper records of child employment for further details.

How can I find out more information?

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.

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