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2.2.7 Employment of children

Last Modified: 21-Jun-2019 Review Date: 02-Jan-2021

Purpose

To provide practice guidance to Department of Communities' staff on responding to queries and undertaking assessments regarding a child in employment, and in issuing a notice to limit or prohibit the employment of a child or children. 

 

Practice Requirements

  • The decision to undertake an assessment regarding a child in employment must be approved by the Manager, Child Protection Policy.
  • The Department of Communities (the Department) must consult with the Department of Commerce, Labour Relations (Commerce LR) where there is a concern for the safety and wellbeing of a child in the workplace.
  • You must copy Part 7 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act), and specifically s.195 “Powers of authorised officers”, and give a copy to each person who will be interviewed.
  • The Department's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) must issue a notice to the parent to prohibit or limit the work of their child at a workplace where it is considered likely to be harmful to the child’s wellbeing, including their health and safety (s.193 of the Act) and provide a copy to the child and their employer (s.193(4) of the Act).
  • The  CEO must issue a notice to the employer to prohibit or limit the work of all children at a particular business or place where it is considered that the wellbeing of those children is likely to be jeopardised because of the nature of the business or place, or the nature of the work carried out (s.194A(2) of the Act).  The employer must give a copy of the notice to each child employed at the business or place (s.194A(3) of the Act).
  • Form 407 - Notice to Prohibit or Place Limitations on the Employment of a Child or Children. must be signed by a Director or above.  You must consult with the General Law Unit must be consulted in this process to ensure it is legally correct.
  • A copy of the notice must be given or sent registered mail to the employer, child, and Director, Compliance and Education, Commerce LR.
  • Where the Department becomes aware that a child has been employed in contravention of a notice, it must be reported to the Director, Compliance and Education, Commerce LR (verbally, followed by a completed Form 604).

Procedures

  • Overview
  • Receiving an inquiry
  • Employment of children assessment
  • Issuing a notice to prohibit or place limitations on the employment of a child
  • Issuing a notice to prohibit or place limitations on children’s employment
  • Breaches of employment obligations
  • Overview

    The Act places a range of restrictions on where children under 18 years can be employed and the kind of work they can do.  A child is considered to be employed when he or she is engaged to carry out work, whether or not they receive payment, or any other kind of reward (s.188 of the Act).  A brief summary of the laws are as follows:

    • Children between the ageds10 years to 13 years can be employed to deliver newspapers, pamphlets or advertising material between 6am and 7pm only, and they should be  accompanied by a parent or an adult who has written permission from the child’s parent to accompany the child (s.191(3) of the Act).
    • With the written permission of a parent, children aged between 3 years to 15 years can be employed to deliver newspapers, or work in a shop, retail outlet or restaurant, or collect trolleys from shops or retail outlets between 6am and 10pm (s.191(4) of the Act).
    • Children of any age may work as part of a school program; in a family business where the business is carried out by a parent or relative of the child; in a not-for-profit organisation or situation; in a dramatic or musical performance or other form of entertainment, or in the making of an advertisement (s. 191(1), (2) and (5) of the Act).
    • Children of any age cannot be employed:
      • to perform in an indecent, obscene or pornographic manner in the course of participating in an entertainment or exhibition, or in the making of an advertisement (s.192 of the Act), or
      • in a place where the CEO considers that the work is harmful to the child’s wellbeing, including their health and safety. The CEO can issue a notice to the child’s parent and employer stopping the child from working or placing limits on what work the child is allowed to do (s.193 of the Act).

    A child of compulsory school age must not be employed during the hours they are required to either attend school or take part in an educational programme, except where there is a Notice of Arrangements or a school exemption (s.29 of the School Education Act 1999).

    For further information, refer to the  Employment of Children Laws Information Sheet (in related resources).

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    Receiving an inquiry

    All general enquiries about the employment of children laws should be directed to the Department of Commerce, Wageline on 1300 655 266, except where the concern is about the wellbeing of a child in a workplace. 

    All enquiries regarding the wellbeing or safety of a child in the workplace should be directed to the policy officer, Policy and Service Design on (08) 9222 2555, The policy officer will consult with the manager, child protection policy and a decision will be made about the most appropriate response to the concern. 

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    Employment of children assessment

    A safety and wellbeing assessment (SWA) in relation to a child in employment involves assessing whether the child’s safety and/or wellbeing may be jeopardised by being employed, or by the nature or extent of the child’s work; and/or whether the nature of the business, or the work carried out is considered harmful to all children in the workplace.

    Authorised officers from Policy and Service Design will generally lead the assessment.  They can use reasonable force and request a police officer or other person to accompany them (as required).  The relevant district office and/or Crisis Care Unit will be advised of the assessment and may be requested to assist in the process, particularly where there may be an ongoing role for Communities.

    Commerce LR will be consulted about whether they have a role in the assessment, including: accompanying authorised Department officers on a work place visit to provide support; providing information about a business or employer; and requisitioning information from the employer about employee details. 

    Where the parent’s details are known, they should be informed about the nature of the concern, the process involved in an assessment and their views sought on the child’s employment.  The parent’s permission to interview the child must also be sought.

    Depending on the nature of the concern, other agencies may also be involved, including the Western Australia Police (Licensing Enforcement) or the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor (regarding possible breaches of the Liquor Licensing Act).   An interagency strategy meeting may be appropriate to gather relevant information and plan actions to be taken. 

    Copies of Part 7 of the Act, and specifically s.195 Powers of authorised officers, must be given to each person interviewed at the place of employment.

    The Department's authorised officers can interview the child and/or any person at the workplace or elsewhere. The person is required to answer and should be told that the penalty for refusing to answer or giving false or misleading information is a fine of up to $6,000 (s.195 of the Act).

    The SWA should consider factors such as:

    • the child’s views and wishes – he or she may like the work, be well paid, may not view the work as abusive or disrespectful, and consider themselves mature enough to work within the environment 
    • the parent’s views
    • the legality of the work
    • the appropriateness of the type and nature of the work
    • whether the work takes place in a sexualised environment or where alcohol is readily available
    • how the child’s work or performance could be used (for example, if it is recorded)
    • supervision of work
    • the child’s competency, maturity and/or vulnerability
    • whether the work is harmful to the child’s wellbeing and/or safety, and
    • whether a notice should be issued prohibiting the child, or all children,  from working at the workplace or having limits placed on their employment.

    Where it is assessed that the child’s immediate safety or wellbeing is in danger or may be detrimental to his or her wellbeing, the child may be asked to leave work immediately until a decision about issuing a notice is made.

    All decisions and case plans must be developed and documented in consultation with, and approved by, the manager, ​Policy and Service Design. 

    The child’s parents, the employer and the child should be contacted to discuss the Department's assessment and decision. The parents and/or the employer may voluntarily decide to terminate the child’s employment or take other actions that change the child’s work environment.   

    The Department should issue a notice where the decision is made to either prohibit or limit a child’s employment (s193 of the Act) or employment of all children (s194A of the Act).

    Wherever possible and appropriate, the referrer will be provided with a level of feedback, guided by the nature of the relationship of the referrer with the child and family and the referrer’s ongoing involvement with the case.  

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    Issuing a notice to prohibit or place limitations on the employment of a child

    The completed Form 407 Notice to Prohibit or Limit  the Employment  of  a Child Under Section 193(2) for the parent/s of the child should be signed by the Director Policy and Service Design after consultation with the General Law Unit to ensure that the document, and the issuing of the document, is legally correct. A copy for the child and the employer/s of the child should also be prepared.  The signed notices must be given, or sent by registered mail, to each party.    

    A copy of the notice should also be sent to the Manager, Compliance Services at Commerce LR.

    Where there are ongoing support needs or protective concerns for the child or family, the case will be referred to the relevant district office.

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    Issuing a notice to prohibit or place limitations on children’s employment

    The completed Form 408 Notice to Prohibit or Limit the Employment of Children in a Particular Business or Place Under Section 194A(2) for the employer should be signed by the director, Policy and Service Design after consultation with the General Law Unit to ensure it is legally correct.  It must be given, or sent by registered mail, to the employer. The employer is required to give a copy of the notice to each child employed in the business or place at the time of receiving the notice.

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    Breaches of employment obligations

    • Any breaches relating to offences under ss.190(1), 193(5), 194A(3), 194A(4) or 195(5) of the Act should be referred to Commerce LR for prosecution in the Industrial Magistrate’s Court.
    • Any breaches of ss.193(6) and 194 of the Act should be referred to the State Solicitors Office.
    • Any breaches of ss.192(1) and 192(2) should be referred to the Police, and   
    • Any legal queries in relation to these matters should be referred to the General Law Unit. 
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