There are laws which restrict the types of jobs and work children can be employed to do, and the hours they can work. These laws apply to Western Australian businesses in both the state and national industrial relations systems.
Children are considered to be employed if they perform work regardless of whether there is any form of payment (monetary or otherwise).
As long as the work does not prevent school attendance, children of any age can:
- work in a family business owned by a relative such as a parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent
- perform professionally as an actor, musician, entertainer or in an advertisement
- work for charities and other not-for-profit organisations.
Children aged 10, 11 or 12 are allowed to deliver newspapers, pamphlets or advertising material, but they:
- cannot work during school hours
- cannot start work before 6.00am or finish later than 7.00pm and
- must be accompanied at all times by a parent, or another adult who has written permission from a parent.
Children aged 13 and 14 are allowed to:
- deliver newspapers, pamphlets or advertising material
- work in a shop, fast food outlet, cafe, restaurant or
- collect shopping trolleys from a retail outlet or adjacent area;
as long as:
- they have written permission from a parent
- the job is outside school hours and
- they do not start work before 6.00am or finish after 10.00pm.
Children aged 15 or older (of compulsory school age)
- cannot work during school hours without appropriate approvals (see below)
- do not require written permission from a parent
Penalties can be imposed on both the employer and parent if they allow a child to:
- do work that is not allowed or work outside the allowed hours for their age – fine of up to $24,000 or up to $120,000 for an incorporated employer
- perform in an indecent, obscene or pornographic manner – up to 10 years imprisonment
- continue to work if the Department of Communities has issued a notice for the employment to cease because the work is harmful to the child – imprisonment for up to 3 years and a fine of up to $36,000 or $180,000 for an incorporated employer.
Laws regulating the employment of children during school hours
Under the School Education Act 1999 a person must not employ a child of compulsory school age during the hours when the child is required to attend school or otherwise participate in an educational program of a school.
There are certain exceptions where a child can be working, or working and studying, if the child has been exempted from attending school. The school the child attends or the relevant regional education office can be contacted for more information.
Visit the Employment of children laws - shop, restaurant, fast food or takeaway food business page for specific information for employers and store managers operating a shop, restaurant, fast food or takeaway food business.
Specific information for employers in the horse riding school and equestrian centre industry is available - visit the Employment of children laws in WA - horse riding schools and equestrian centres page.
There are restrictions on the serving of alcohol by people under 18 years of age. Go to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries website for more information.