Obligations for parents and employers of working children

State legislation regarding private employment agents, trading hours, public holidays and child employment continues to apply to all businesses and employees in Queensland.

The employment of children (people under 18 years of age) is governed by the Child Employment Act 2006 and the Child Employment Regulation 2016.

The legislation protects children from being required to perform work that may be harmful to their health, safety or that compromises their mental, moral or social development. The Act and Regulation also limits the hours of work of school-aged children to ensure that their studies aren't adversely affected.

Read child employment terms and definitions for further information.

Authority for a child to work

An employer must not employ a school-aged or young child until they have obtained a parent's consent form (PDF, 103KB) or special circumstances certificate authorising the child to perform work. The form must be signed by the child's parent and include information for the employer about the hours when the child is required to be at school. A new form must be completed when those hours change. The employer must keep the signed consent form on file.

If a school-aged child does not have a parent or if the child is living independently from his/her parent, the child can apply for a special circumstances certificate. This certificate authorises the child to work when not required to attend school.

An offence will be committed if you require or permit a school-aged or young child to work

  • unless they have a parent's consent form or a special circumstances certificate
  • or
  • when the child is required to attend school as stated in the parent's consent form or special circumstances certificate.

Parent's obligations to working children

A parent must ensure:

  • they are present if it is their baby that is employed
  • they provide a parent's consent form to the employer before employment can occur
  • they inform the employer if their child's school hours change by submitting a parent's consent form within 14 days of the hours changing.

Employer's obligations to working children

As an employer you must ensure:

  • a school-aged child is not able to work unless written consent is provided on a parent's consent form
  • reasonable steps are taken to ensure that while a child is at work they will not be subjected to deliberate or unnecessary social isolation or to any other behaviour likely to intimidate, threaten, frighten or humiliate the child
  • a school-aged or young child (unless an industrial instrument provides otherwise)
    • must not work more than one shift on a single day
    • must be given at least a one-hour break after the end of the fourth hour of work
  • if a child can no longer work due to illness or injury, you must take all reasonable measures to contact a parent of the child
  • reasonable measures are taken to ensure that the child is able to contact his/her parents while at work
  • specific records are kept about child employees including a copy of the parent's consent form.

Offences to child employment laws

The Act and the Regulation outline offences and penalties if employers do not comply with the law. These laws also prohibit the employment of children in adult entertainment and related activities.

The child employment laws are enforced by inspectors, who monitor compliance and investigate alleged contraventions.

More detail about enforcement, legal proceedings and appeals is available in the Child Employment Guide (PDF, 236KB).