All businesses which employ children must comply with the laws on where, when and at what age children can be employed.
The Children and Community Services Act 2004 regulates employment of children in Western Australia and these laws apply to all employers throughout the State.
In most industries, children under 15 cannot be employed unless they are working in a family business run by a relative such as a parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent; performing professionally as an actor, musician, entertainer or in an advertisement; or working for charities and other not-for-profit organisations. Jobs in which children under 15 cannot be employed include working on a farm or at horse riding schools and stables, working in construction or on any building or home or garden maintenance work, and working in a factory or warehouse.
The Children and Community Services Act specifies that children aged 10, 11 or 12 are allowed to deliver newspapers or advertising material, but they cannot work during school hours and cannot start work before 6am or finish later than 7pm. Workers of this age must be accompanied at all times by a parent, or another adult who has written permission from their parents.
A child must be at least 13 years old to be employed in a shop, fast food outlet, cafe or restaurant. Employers are also required to get written permission from a child's parent and the child is not allowed to work before 6am and after 10pm or during school hours.
Breaches of the Children and Community Services Act attract penalties of up to $120,000 if the employer is a body corporate.
In 2015 a supermarket business in regional Western Australia was fined $2,250 in the Industrial Magistrate's Court for illegally employing an 11-year-old girl. The charge related to the employment of the child as a shop assistant for five shifts of work that were performed on weekend days.
Employers who are considering employing children are encouraged to check the legal requirements by contacting Wageline on 1300 655 266 or visiting the When children can work in Western Australia page.