Work if you’re under 15

Work if you’re under 15

There are laws about employing young people under the age of 15. Employers can be fined if they don’t comply with these conditions.

When you can get a job

Generally you can’t work if you are under 13. However, you can work:

  • if you are 11 or older to deliver newspapers or advertising material, and make deliveries for a pharmacy
  • at any age if you are working in a family business or in the entertainment industry.

If you work in a family business your parents must supervise you and make sure you only do light work that will not stop your schoolwork.

Permits

If you are under 15 you can only work if your employer gets a Child Employment Permit from Business Victoria. Your employer will also need a Working with Children Check to employ you. It is illegal to work without a permit and employers can be fined between $1000 and $10,000.

Permits are free. The employer must include details about what you will be doing and your hours of work. Your parent or guardian must give their written consent. Your school must also approve if the employment will occur during school hours.

If you are under 15 you can only work without a permit if the work is occasional (not done on a regular basis) and involves:

  • helping out in a family business
  • posing for still photographs, like modelling
  • participating at a sports event, like the Australian Open
  • taking part in a not-for-profit educational, charitable or religious activity.

Type of work

If you are under 15, you are only allowed to do light work. This means work that will not hurt you in any way or stop you from going to school. Examples of light work include:

  • going on errands
  • casual work in or around a house
  • golf-caddying
  • office work, such as photocopying
  • gardening
  • street trading
  • delivering newspapers, pamphlets or other advertising material and making deliveries for a registered pharmacist
  • entertainment
  • farm work
  • working as a sales assistant in a shop.

You can’t work in door-to-door sales, in the building and construction industry or in deep-sea fishing. You can’t sell alcohol in a bottle shop, hotel or restaurant until you are 18, unless you are on an approved training program.

Limit to the number of hours per week

If you are under 15, you can only work for a maximum of three hours a day and 12 hours a week during school term. During the holidays you can work for a maximum of six hours a day and 30 hours a week. These hours include rest breaks.

You can only work between 6 am and 9 pm. If you work in street trading, like at a fruit stall or mobile food van, you can’t work between 6 pm and 6 am.

You must be allowed to rest for 30 minutes after every three hours worked and have at least 12 hours’ break between finishing one shift and starting the next.

Tax and tax file numbers

It’s a good idea to get a tax file number if you are working. If you do not, your employer has to take almost 50 per cent of your wages in tax.

A tax file number is issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and is yours for life, even if you move states, change your name, live overseas for a while or get a new job.

You can apply for a tax file number on the ATO website. If you are under 16 you need two forms of ID, such as your birth certificate or citizenship papers with proof of residence and a recent school report.

If you earn over a certain amount from working or investments, you need to put in a tax return after the end of the financial year (30 June). The ATO website will tell you how much you can earn before you have to start paying tax. This is called the tax-free threshold.

Work experience restrictions

If you are over 14, you can do work experience for up to 10 days a term and no more than 40 days per year. You can’t work for more than 10 days in one work experience placement.

If you are under 15, you need to fill in special forms to do work experience. You may not be able to work with animals.

Structured Workplace Learning students must be 15 years or older.

You don’t need a Child Employment Permit for work experience or a work placement arrangement. There are guidelines for selecting work experience placements. Speak to your work experience co-ordinator for more information.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with employment and your rights.