Employment of Children and Young People

1. ACT Laws

1.1 Children and young people under 18 years of age
1.2 Children and young people under 15 years of age
1.2.1 Types of work allowed
1.2.2 Permitted working hours
1.2.3 Consent
1.2.4 ‘High risk’ employment
1.2.5 Volunteer work
1.2.6 Supervision requirements
1.2.7 Family businesses
1.2.8 Door-to-door selling
1.2.9 Newspaper delivery/letterboxing
1.2.10 Child actors
1.2.11 Children on farms

2. Information for Employers

2.1 Employment which conflicts with the Standards
2.2 Parental Consent
2.3 Employing children and young people who are enrolled in school

3. Information for Young Workers

3.1 Children and young people under 15 years of age
3.2 Children and young people between 15 and 17 years of age
3.3 All children and young people in employment
3.4 Work and its impact on your school performance
3.5 Checklist for children and young people

4. Information for Parents

4.1 Consent
4.2 Supervision
4.3 Balancing school and work
4.4 Checklist for parents
4.5 Your child’s money

5. Legislation

6. Useful Links

7. Contact Us

Employment of Children and Young People

New laws concerning the employment of children and young people were introduced in the ACT on 22 June 2011. The new laws aim to protect children and young people in employment.

Work can provide many benefits to children and young people, such as:

  • building independence;
  • self esteem;
  • money;
  • skills; and
  • friendships.

In the ACT a child is a person who is under 12 years old. A young person is at least 12 years of age and under 18 years of age.

It is not unusual for children and young people under 15 years to be involved in paid work at some point, and a significant percentage of young people over 14 years of age combine part time work with school.

These web pages provide information for employers, young workers and parents on their rights and responsibilities in relation to the employment of children and young people.

Links to resources for further information are also provided.

Forms and information for children and young people, employers and parents:

For more information about laws in the ACT on the employment of children and young people and how they pertain to you please email youngworkers@act.gov.au.

If you need assistance in establishing whether or not you can be employed (as a young person) or if you can employ a young person (as an employer) please use the checklist below to make sure you meet your legal obligations.

Employment of Children and Young People Checklist [PDF 124KB] [Word 94KB]

The information below also contains details about what is and what isn't allowed.

Should you be required to get parental consent for a person under the age of 15, or for additional hours please complete the forms below and email them to youngworkers@act.gov.au.

Parental Consent Form (this can be adjusted to suit an employer's corporate branding if necessary) [PDF 142KB] [Word 37KB]
Additional Hours [PDF 145KB] [Word 35KB]

Alternatively for further information please contact;

Child and Youth Protection Services
Phone – 02 6205 0158

Young Worker’s Guide

On 23 November 2010 Ms Joy Burch, Minister for Children and Young People launched the “Young People at Work in the ACT, What you need to Know" guide.

This guide is designed to help inform children and young people about their rights at work, the responsibilities of employers and who to contact for help or more information.

Children and Young people have the right to be safe at work. If a child or young person is unsure about something they should raise their concerns with parents, carers or another adult they feel comfortable talking with. Children and Young people can also contact the Child and Youth Protection Services on (02) 6205 0158 or at youngworkers@act.gov.au.

Accessible versionsYoung People at Work Guide [PDF 213KB] [RTF 300KB]

Designer versionYoung People at Work Guide [PDF 3.1MB]

Top

1. ACT laws on the employment of children and young people

Children and young people under 18 years of age
Children and young people under 15 years of age
Types of work allowed
Permitted working hours
Consent
‘High risk’ employment
Volunteer work
Supervision requirements
Family businesses
Door-to-door selling
Newspaper delivery/letterboxing
Child actors
Children on farms

The Children and Young People (Employment) Standards 2011 (No 1) guide employers, children and young people and parents on employment rights and responsibilities.

The Standards apply to all children and young people under 18 years of age in employment, with specific detail regarding the employment of children and young people under 15 years of age.

The following laws on the employment of children and young people in the ACT can be downloaded from the ACT Legislation Register, at http://www.legislation.act.gov.au External Link

All other Australian Capital Territory and Commonwealth laws and regulations in regards to the employment of adults also apply to the employment of children and young people. This includes, but is not limited to, fair work, human rights, privacy and workplace safety legislation and relevant industrial instruments.

1.1 Children and young people under 18 years of age

The Children and Young People (Employment) Standards 2011 (No 1) apply to all children and young people under 18 years of age.

The majority of provisions, however, apply to children and young people under 15 years of age.

Hours of work are not restricted for young people from 15 to 17. Employment, however, must not adversely affect a young person’s ability to benefit from education.

It is an offense to employ a child or young person of compulsory education age (under 17) during school hours, if the child or young person is required by the Education and Training Directorate to attend school.

Top

1.2 Children and young people under 15 years of age

1.2.1 Types of work allowed

In the ACT, children and young people under the age of 15 may only be employed in light work. Some examples of light work are:

  • going on errands
  • casual work in and around a private home
  • work related to sporting activities such as being and umpire, referee or tennis court attendant
  • clerical work
  • work as a cashier
  • gardening
  • taking care of children in or around a private home
  • modelling
  • performing arts (including film, television, theatre)

This is not an exhaustive list. Other types of employment may also meet the criteria for light work. Light work means work that is not contrary to the best interests of the child or young person. A job may be classified as light work if it is suitable for the physical, emotional and developmental competency of the child or young person. This includes the provision of adequate supervision, along with appropriate work safety standards to protect the child or young person from hazards.

For guidance on whether a particular type of employment is light work and acceptable for children and young people under 15, please email the Child and Youth Protection Services or phone 02 6205 0480.

Top

1.2.2 Permitted working hours

A child or young person under 15 may be employed for up to 10 hours a week.

If an employer wishes to employ a child or young person under the age of 15 for more than 10 hours a week, they need to notify the Child and Youth Protection Services by email or by phone on 6205 0480 at least 7 days before the employment starts.

This may be especially relevant during school holidays.

The Children and Young People (Employment) Standards 2011 (No 1) limit the number of hours a young child can work each day.

  • Children between 0 and not yet 4 may work for up to 3 hours a day;
  • Children between 4 and not yet 12 may work for up to 4 hours a day; and
  • Young people from 12 and not yet 15 may work for up to 6 hours a day.

A child or young person must not be employed for more than one shift on any given day.

Top

1.2.3 Consent

Written parental consent is required to employ a child or young person under the age of 15.

Children and young people also need to give informed consent to the work.

Parents and children should discuss the conditions of work with the employer before giving consent for a child of young person to start work.

Some issues to be considered include:

  • What are the expected working hours?
  • What are the rates of pay?
  • How many breaks will the child/young person be given?
  • What kind of training will be provided?
  • What are the supervision arrangements?
  • Is there access to food and drink?
  • Is there access to a telephone to call home for a lift?
  • Is safe transport home arranged?
  • Are there adequate toilet facilities / change room facilities?
  • Where will the work be located?

Parents should consider whether their child is mature enough to deal with situations that they may come across during the employment.

Top

1.2.4 ‘High risk’ employment

Children and young people under the age of 15 cannot be employed in high risk employment unless the employer has received a high risk employment permit from the Child and Youth Protection Services.

High risk employment involves: the use of dangerous machinery; use of dangerous substances; handling harsh or toxic chemicals; high elevation work; service of alcohol; gaming or gambling service; nudity and display of genitals; working with extreme temperatures; and heavy construction and excavation work.

Top

1.2.5 Volunteer work

The laws in the ACT in regards to the employment of children and young people apply to both paid and unpaid work.

Top

1.2.6 Supervision requirements

Children between 0 and 3 years of age in employment (usually photographic work) need to be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times, or by a suitably qualified child development expert.

Children under 12 years of age need to be supervised by a parent or guardian or by a responsible adult approved by a parent or guardian.

Young people from 12 to 14 years of age need to be supervised by a responsible adult.

Top

1.2.7 Family businesses

Family businesses, as employers of children and young people, have the same legal responsibilities as other employers.

A child or young person under 15 may be employed in a family business for up to 10 hours a week, provided the work meets the criteria for light work.

Top

1.2.8 Door-to-door selling

Children who are not properly supervised risk being assaulted, robbed or abused.

By law, children under the age of 15 can only be employed in door to door selling if they are accompanied by an parent or guardian or a responsible adult approved by a parent or guardian.

It is important to for parents to talk with an employer before a child or young person under 15 is engaged in door to door selling, including volunteer work.

Top

1.2.9 Newspaper delivery / letterboxing

This type of work also presents certain safety concerns for children and young people.

A child or young person under 15 cannot be employed in any outdoor work outside of day light hours unless directly supervised by a parent or guardian, or a responsible adult approved by a parent or guardian.

Top

1.2.10 Child actors

Acting in movies, television, advertisements and on the stage might seem like fun, but there is a lot of hard work involved.

Children and young people can spend long hours at work and often having to wait for lengthy periods to do their part.

The Children and Young People (Employment) Standards 2011 (No 1) limit the number of hours a young child can work each day.

  • Children between 0 and not yet 4 may work for up to 3 hours a day;
  • Children from 4 and not yet 12 may work for up to 4 hours a day; and
  • Young people from 12 and not yet 15 may work for up to 6 hours a day.

Supervision requirements for younger children working in the ACT have been developed with this industry in mind. Please see the section of this web page on supervision.

Work outdoors in the heat or cold, with animals, or with special effects can all add up to a dangerous situation and may be classified as high risk.

Employers need to email the Child and Youth Protection Services or call 02 6205 0480 for employment of a child or young person under 15 which is likely to exceed the allowable working hours; not meet the supervision requirements; or which may be classified as high risk. The employer will need apply for permission and a case-by-case employment conditions notice may be set.

Parents should make sure the correct permission is obtained by the employer before your child starts work.

The Film and Television Safety Guidelines External Link are also helpful. Chapter 45 of this publication looks at safety considerations for children in the industry.

Top

1.2.11 Children on farms

Children who live or work on farms—or even visit them—can be exposed to a great number of risks. About a quarter of all fatal farm accidents involve children, while a number of other children have been badly hurt.

Parents who live on farms should be aware of precautions to protect their child. A guide to Child Safety on Farms External Link is available from Farmsafe Australia, phone (02) 6752 8218.

If children are helping out on the family farm in the ACT, the laws in regards to the employment of children and young people do apply. It is important that parents, as family business employers, become familiar with the Children and Young People (Employment) Standards 2011 (No 1).

Consideration needs to be given to whether the work is light work (required) and to ensuring it is not high risk (prohibited).

If you are not sure whether the work meets the criteria for light work, contact the Child and Youth Protection Services on 02 6205 0480 for guidance.

Top

2. Information for Employers

Employment which conflicts with the Standards
Parental Consent
Employing children and young people who are enrolled in school

As an employer, it is important that you become familiar with the Children and Young People (Employment) Standards 2011 (No 1).

These Standards can be downloaded from the ACT Legislation Register External Link.

The laws in the ACT on the employment of children and young people have been developed with the recognition that employment can provide significant benefits to children and young people, and to employers.

Any employment of a child or young person under 15 years of age needs to comply with the Standards.

Employment must not be contrary to the best interests of the child or young person.

Top

2.1 Employment which conflicts with the Standards

Please email the Child and Youth Protection Services, or phone 02 6205 0480 if you are employing of a child or young person under 15 and believe the employment may conflict with the Standards.

Some examples are employment which:

1. exceeds the allowable working hours; or
2. does not meet the supervision requirements; or
3. may not meet the requirements for light work; or
3. may be classified as high risk.

The Child and Youth Protection Services can provide advice or guidance on the Standards and on other laws related to the employment of children and young people.

The Child and Youth Protection Services will review each case of an individual basis.

For high risk work, a High Risk employment permit may be given, provided the employment is not likely to harm the child or young person’s health, safety, personal or social development (including by sexual or financial exploitation).

For work that exceeds the hours permitted in the Standards, employers need to contact the Child and Youth Protection Services at least 7 days before the work commences.

For any work which may not meet the Standards, an employment conditions notice may be set by the Child and Youth Protection Services. These conditions will be specific to the particular employment in question. Employers will need to adhere to these conditions in order to be able to legally employ the child or young person.

Individual employment conditions notices may be produced by the Child and Youth Protection Services for the employment of children and young people under 18 years of age.

Any contravention of the Standards by an employer, without having contacted the Child and Youth Protection Services, is an offence.

Contravening an employment conditions notice is also an offense.

If you are not sure about something and you are employing a child or young person under 18, please do not hesitate to contact the
Child and Youth Protection Services
on 02 6205 0480 for guidance.

Top

2.2 Parental Consent

Written parental consent is required to employ a child or young person under the age of 15.

A sample parental consent form is available. This form may be edited or adjusted to suit your corporate materials, if required. Parents will generally contact employers to learn more about the conditions of employment before they give consent.

It is important that you provide parents with the information they will need in order to provide informed consent.

Parental consent is required to be kept on file by employers. Refer to the Standards for more details on record keeping requirementsExternal Link

Sample Parental consent form [PDF 33KB] [Word 34KB]

Top

2.3 Employing children and young people who are enrolled in school

Many young people will be juggling school and work in the final years of their secondary education. This can be a valuable experience and provide young people with money, independent, confidence, maturity, friendships and skills.

It is important for young workers to achieve a balance while working, to ensure work does not negatively impact on school performance, social life or other interests such as sport and extracurricular activities.

Information for employers is available at the website Students@Work External Link, to help ensure young workers are able to find the right balance.

Top

3. Information for Children and Young People

Children and young people under 15 years of age
Children and young people between 15 and 17 years of age
All children and young people in employment
Work and its impact on your school performance
Checklist for children and young people

Finding a job and starting work for the first time can be a great experience. It may enable you to earn your own money, develop new skills, build your confidence and make new friends.

3.1 Children and young people under 15 years of age

If you are under the age of 15, you are allowed to work under certain conditions.

You are able to work for up to 10 hours a week.

Depending on your age, there are also limits to how many hours you can work each day.

The work needs to be classified as light work.

You cannot work during hours in which you are required to attend school.

It is important that working does not impact on your ability to benefit from your education.

Your parents will need to give written permission to your employer before you commence work.

You also need to give informed consent for the work that you are about to commence.

Make sure you discuss your employment with a parent or guardian before they sign the consent for you to work. It is important that you are both clear about all the conditions of your employment.

For more details, read the information on Laws relating to the employment of children and young people External Link.

Top

3.2 Children and young people between 15 and 17 years of age

If you are between 15 and 17 years of age, employment must not be contrary to your best interests.

Working must not adversely affect your ability to benefit from education or training.

If you are required to attend school, you cannot work during hours in which you need to attend school.

It is important that work does not harm your health, safety, personal or social development. This included sexual or financial exploitation.

Top

3.3 All children and young people in employment

As well as the extra protection that you have from the Children and Young People (Employment) Standards 2009 (No 1), you have all the same rights in the workforce as adults do.

If you are not sure about something and you are working, or plan to start work, please contact the
Child and Youth Protection Services
on 02 6205 0480 for guidance.

Top

3.4 Work and its impact on your school performance

Many young people will be juggling school and work in the final years of their secondary education.

This can be a valuable experience which may provide you with money, independent, confidence, maturity, friendships and skills.

It is important, as a young worker, to find a balance while working and ensure work does not negatively impact on your school performance, social life or other interests such as sport and extra curricular activities.

The Students@WorkExternal Link website is a useful guide for students, parents, teachers and employers to help ensure young workers are able to find the right balance.

Top

3.5 Checklist for children and young people

Before you start work, refer to the following guide for useful considerations.

  • My parent/guardian has provided written consent for my employment (if under the age of 15);
  • I have given my consent to the employment;
  • My employer has provided the employment details to me in writing;
  • I have a clear idea about the nature of the work and the working conditions;
  • I am confident that I am mature enough to do this job;
  • I know what my rights are in terms of pay and conditions;
  • I know how much and how often I will be paid;
  • I know which the award or agreement I will be working under (if applicable);
  • I know whether the employment will be full-time, part-time or casual;
  • I know whether there will be a probation period when I start work;
  • I know when I am expected to work and for how long;
  • I know what breaks I will be entitled to;
  • I have the correct contact person to call if I am going to be absent from work;
  • I am confident this work will not interfere with my education;
  • I am able to travel to and from work safely;
  • I am satisfied that my employer or supervisor will treat me fairly;
  • I have read the Children and Young People (Employment) Standards 2011 (No 1);
  • I have a list of phone numbers to call if I need advice in relation to my working conditions and my employment rights;
  • I have spoken with my parent / guardian about what I will do with the money earned from working.

Top

4. Information for Parents

Consent
SupervisionYour child’s money
Balancing school and work
Checklist for parents

Parentlink is a parenting resource guide with easy-to-read information on many of the issues faced by parents from birth through to adolescence.

As a parent, it important to consider the maturity and developmental capacity of your child when deciding whether to allow your child to be involved in paid work.

If your child is working, it is important to:

  • Make sure work is balanced with play, exercise, rest and study commitments.
  • Work should not stop your child from enjoying and developing normally.
  • Work shouldn’t become more important than school.
  • Watch to make sure she isn’t too tired to do homework.

4.1 Consent

Written parental consent is required for the employment of children and young people under 15 years of age. This needs to be informed consent.

Make sure you speak with the proposed employer and learn as much as you can about the conditions of employment before you give your signed consent for the work.

The child or young person to be employed is also required to give informed consent to the employment. This does not need to be written consent.

There are no circumstances, for the employment of someone under 15 years of age, in which written parental consent is not required.

If you child is working and you have not given written consent to this work, it is important for you to contact the employer. Make sure they know about the Children and Young People (Employment) Standards 2011 (No 1).

If you are concerned that you child’s employer is not complying with the Standards, please contact the
Child and Youth Protection Services
, or phone 02 6205 0480 for guidance.

Top

4.2 Supervision

As a parent, it is important to be aware of the supervision requirements in the Standards.

Top

4.3 Your child’s money

Before your child begins make sure you are in agreement about what will happen with the money received from working.

For instance:

  • Can she do what she likes with all the money or only part?
  • Does she have to bank some?
  • Does she have to buy certain things with it?

Each family will have different ways of dealing with this.

Top

4.4 Balancing school and work

Many older children will be juggling school and work in the final years of their secondary education. This can be a valuable experience which provides a young person with money, independent, confidence, maturity, friendships and skills.

It is important, however, to ensure your child is able to achieve a balance while working, to ensure work does not negatively impact on your child’s school performance, social life or other interests such as sport and extracurricular activities.

The Students@Work External Link website helps students, parents, teachers and employers ensure young workers find the right balance.

Top

4.5 Checklist for parents

Before your child starts work, refer to the following guide for useful considerations.

  • My child wants to do this work and has given their consent;
  • I have a clear idea about the nature of the work my child will be doing and the working conditions;
  • I am confident this work will not harm my child’s health or development;
  • I am confident this work will not interfere with my child’s education;
  • I am sure my child be safe;
  • I am confident my child will be adequately supervised;
  • For my child under 12 years, I have either arranged to supervise my child myself or approved a responsible adult to supervise my child (required by law);
  • My child has the maturity to do this particular job;
  • My child will be paid fairly for work done;
  • I am satisfied that the child’s employer or supervisor will treat my child fairly;
  • I know about my child’s rights at work and the laws to protect her; and
  • I have provided written consent for my child under the age of 15 to do this work (this is required by law).

Top

5. Legislation

The following laws on the employment of children and young people in the ACT can be downloaded from the ACT Legislation Register External Link

Children and Young People Act 2008, Chapter 21 External Link
Children and Young People (Employment) Standards 2011 (No 1) External Link
Children and Young People Regulation 2009 External Link
Children and Young People (High Risk Employment) Declaration 2009 (No 1) External Link
Children and Young People (Work Experience) Standards 2009 (No 1) External Link

All other Australian Capital Territory and Commonwealth laws and regulations in regards to the employment of adults also apply to the employment of children and young people. This includes, but is not limited to, fair work, human rights, privacy and workplace safety legislation and relevant industrial instruments.

Top

6. Useful links for more information

Child and Youth Protection Services
(for information, complaints and queries on the employment of children and young people in the ACT)
6205 0480
youngworkers@act.gov.au

Commonwealth Fair Work Ombudsman
(for information and guidance on issues such as wage, salary and leave entitlements)
http://www.fwo.gov.au/ External Link
13 13 94

ACT Workcover
(for issues on Work health and safety)
WorksafetyExternal Link
6207 3000

Child and Youth Protection Services
(if you suspect possible abuse or neglect of a child or young person)
1300 556 729 (24hrs)

ParentLink
ParentlinkExternal Link
13 34 27

Parentline
(9am–9pm Mon–Fri, except public holidays)
6287 3833

Education and Training Directorate
(for information on compulsory education requirements)
Education and Training DirectorateExternal Link
6207 7511

The ACT Legislation Register
(for ACT laws on the employment of children and young people)
1. Children and Young People Act 2008 - Chapter 21 on the Employment of Children and Young People http://www.legislation.act.gov.au External Link
2. Children and Young People (Employment) Standards 2009 (No 1)
3. Children and Young People Regulation 2009
4. Children and Young People (High Risk Employment) Declaration 2009 (No 1)

Youth Law Centre ACT
www.youthlawact.org.au External Link
62627077

Legal Aid ACT
When Can I? handbook for young people Legal Aid ACTExternal Link
1300 654 314

Employment ACT
(for apprenticeship information)
6262 7844

Farmsafe NSW
Farmsafe NSW External Link
02 6752 8214

Film and Television Safety Guidelines
(Chapter 45 on safety considerations for child workers) External Link

Kids Help Line
Kids Help External Link
1800 55 1800

Top

7. Contact Us

For more information about laws in the ACT on the employment of children and young people, please contact:

Child and Youth Protection Services

Phone – 02 6205 0158
Email – youngworkers@act.gov.au

Top