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Can you employ kids in Australia? Yes and No

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YES, you can employ kids under the age of 15 yrs in most states and territories but you do need a permit from the local child welfare agency. The permit applies to any work time whether or not in school hours.

NO, you cannot employ kids under the same conditions as adults. There are tight restrictions to be followed.

The following information applies to businesses other than family businesses such as farms.

Jurisdictional laws

The employment of children, ie a person under 18 years of age although in some states 15 yrs applies, is governed by a number of different federal, state, or territory laws, as well as the provisions of the applicable industrial instrument. These laws may relate to the employment of school-aged persons, state child employment laws and the relevant school leaving age.

Legislation varies by state/territory so best to check the relevant legislation:

  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 [NSW],

  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) (Child Employment Regulation 2010 [NSW]

  • Child Employment Act 2003 [Vic]

  • Child Employment Act 2006 [Qld]

  • Children and Community Services Act 2004 [WA]

  • Children and Young People Act 2008 [ACT]

  • Children and Young People Regulation 2009 [ACT]

Age limitations

This varies by jurisdiction however generally a minimum age for child employment is considered to be about 13 yrs of age although some permits allow much younger ages for industries such as in entertainment/theatre industry etc.


What sort of work CAN kids do?

They can do physically light work that does not put them at any risk of physical injury, mental or moral harm. Work offered cannot impact on school attendance or other opportunities for learning.

Examples of ‘can do’ work:


  • Entertainment industry

  • Delivering papers and leaflet drops in daylight hours

What sort of work CAN’T kids do?

  • They can’t do repetitive work

  • They can’t do heavy lifting

  • They can’t do cooking or working in a kitchen with hot or sharp objects

  • They can’t use electrical equipment, sharp instruments or power saws or any type of construction tool

  • They can’t work at heights

  • They can’t work with uncontrolled animals

  • They can’t work in extreme weather conditions


Examples of ‘can’t do’ work:


  • Working on any construction site not at lock up stage

  • Working on fishing boats

  • Working in a restaurant or any food preparation kitchen

  • Door to door selling

What hours can kids work?

This varies by jurisdiction with Queensland being the most liberal. The following general rules apply for kids under 15 yrs:


  • Max 3 hrs days

  • No more than 12 hrs week


OR in school holidays


  • Max 6 hr days

  • No more than 30 hrs week

Kids must be given rest breaks:


  • 30 minutes every 3 hrs

  • 12 hrs between finishing on e shift and starting the next.

Kids MUST be supervised


Kids must be supervised all the time including in rest breaks [must be in sight of supervisor] by a supervisor with a Working with Children Check (WWCC).