Wageline is providing horse riding schools and equestrian centre businesses across WA with information about their obligations for employing children as part of a campaign to increase awareness that children under 15 cannot be employed in this industry.
The Children and Community Services Act 2004 regulates the employment of children under the age of 15 years and applies to all businesses in Western Australia.
If you run or manage a business that is a horse riding or equestrian centre you need to know:
- 15 years old is the youngest a child can work for a business in your industry.
- a child is considered to be working whether they are paid or not paid for the work they do.
- ‘volunteer’ work or a child helping around the premises in return for free or discounted riding lessons is illegal if the child is under 15 years old.
- children aged 15 and over of school age are allowed to work in the equestrian industry only outside school hours.
- business owners can face substantial fines for employing children under 15 years of age – up to $24,000 or up to $120,000 for an incorporated employer.
There are exclusions in this industry if the child is working in a family business owned by a relative such as a parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent, or the organisation is a charity or not-for-profit organisation.
Following the awareness raising component of the campaign, selected businesses will be audited by Industrial Inspectors from the Private Sector Labour Relations Division of the Department to ensure that children are not being employed or otherwise engaged in breach of the Children and Community Services Act. If breaches are identified, the Private Sector Labour Relations Division may initiate prosecution action in the Industrial Magistrates Court.
The Department has in the past prosecuted a horse riding school business for employing children under 15 years of age. The owner of a horse riding school in Perth was prosecuted for breaching the Children and Community Services Act 2004 and fined for employing children under the age of 15. The children were employed by the horse riding school to perform stable hand duties, which included mucking and raking horse stalls, feeding and watering horses and general cleaning duties.
The Employment of children laws in WA - horse riding schools and equestrian centres page of the Wageline website has more information for employers in this industry.