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Bulletin 25: Employing school persons over school holidays

The hotel industry employs a number of younger students over school holiday periods.

State and territory laws regulate the employment of young persons on matters such as minimum age, when work can be performed and prohibition on certain types of work. A young employee in hotels comes under the provisions of the HIGA and the Victorian child employment legislation.

An employer may also be approached during the school holidays by young persons requesting on-the-job work experience. These requests need to be properly managed and AHA (Vic) members are referred to the ‘Fair Work Ombudsman Fact Sheet:
Internships, Vocational Placements & Unpaid Work

‘Child labour’ laws in a state or territory are not excluded by the Fair Work Act 2009 (i.e. the state or territory law continues to be enforceable). Some of these laws may impose an age restriction on the performance of certain specified work.

In Victoria the ‘Child Employment Act 2003’ regulates the employment of persons less than 15 years of age in this state. There is a minimum age of 13 years for employment generally, except for work in a family business. Children can be employed for a maximum of 6 hours a day and 30 hours a week during school holidays, and can only work between 6.00 am and 9.00 pm and must receive a 30-minute break every 3 hours. Before employing any person under 15 years, an employer is required to ensure that a Child Employment Permit has been granted. Those people directly supervising children in the workplace need a Working with Children check.

For more information see:

Child Employment Act 2003:

Fair Work Ombudsman Fact Sheet – Internships, Vocational Placements & Unpaid Work:

Child Employment:

Working with Children:

Age restrictions apply due to liquor or gambling licence requirements.

An employer should take all reasonable care when identifying the age of a young person. This check should be done during the recruitment process, by requiring the production of a birth certificate, statutory declaration or other proof of age (e.g. passport or driver licence). An employer who fails to pay the correct age owing to a misstatement of age by an employee usually cannot use this as a defence in proceedings for breach of the relevant minimum wage rate under the applicable industrial instrument, unless the employer can clearly show that reasonable measures were taken to verify the     employee’s statement.

Under the Victorian OHS legislation, a young person is required to receive the same workplace induction as other workers. In fact, the younger the person, the greater the responsibility on the employer to ensure the employee understands the necessary safety procedures in the workplace (e.g. use of safety gear, use of machinery and equipment and evacuation procedures), because a young person may have little exposure to the dangers of some workplaces.

The following dates are the commencing and finishing of school holidays for Victoria – Saturday 22 December 2018 — Tuesday 29 January 2019.

Best regards,

John Sweetman
Workplace Relations Advisor