Restrictions on children working in Queensland (other than in the entertainment industry)

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

Restrictions and exemptions apply to:

  • minimum age of employment
  • maximum hours of work
  • shifts
  • breaks
  • prohibited hours
  • supervision.

The following work restrictions apply only to the work of school-aged and young children.

Age restrictions on children working

The Child Employment Act 2006 prohibits the employment of children below the ages specified in the Child Employment Regulation 2016.

Generally the minimum age for employment is 13. This is lowered to 11 where the child carries out supervised delivery work that involves delivering newspapers, advertising material or similar items between the hours of 6am and 6pm.

Maximum hours children can work

School-aged children maximum working hours

The Act restricts you employing school-aged children outside of the hours stipulated by the Regulation. The Regulation differentiates between the hours that a school-aged child can work on a day when they are required to attend school and on a day when they are not required to attend school.

On a school day a school-aged child can work a maximum of 4 hours. When they are not required to attend school they can work a maximum of 8 hours.

A distinction is also made between the maximum hours a school-aged child can work during a school week and a non-school week. A school week starts on a Sunday, when the child is required to attend school on any day of that week. During a school week a school-aged child can work a maximum of 12 hours. During a non-school week a school-aged child can work a maximum of 38 hours.

Unless an industrial instrument provides otherwise an employer must give a school-aged child at least a one-hour break after the end of the fourth hour.

An industrial instrument includes an award or certified agreement made under state or federal legislation, or a code of practice made for outworkers in the clothing industry or for labour market programs.

School-aged and young children maximum working hours

The following table outlines the maximum allowable hours of work for school-aged and young children:

 

On a school day

On a non-school day

During a school week*

During a non-school week

School-aged child

4

8

12

38

Young child

N/A

4

N/A

12

*A school week is a week commencing on a Sunday, when the child is required to attend school on any day of that week.

The Act makes it an offence for an employer to require or permit a school-aged child to perform work when they are required to attend school. A parent commits an offence under the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 if they allow their child to work when they should be at school.

Shifts children can work in a day

Unless an industrial instrument provides otherwise, an employer must not allow a school-aged or young child to work more than one shift on a single day.

Breaks children must be given in a day

An employer must give a school-aged child at least a one-hour break after the end of the fourth hour unless an industrial instrument provides otherwise.

A school-aged or young child must have a 12-hour break between shifts for the one employer.

Shifts per day

Break during shift

Break between shifts

1

1 hour after the end of the fourth hour

12 hours

Prohibited hours when children are not permitted to work

In addition to the prohibition on employing school-aged children when they are required to be at school, an employer must not allow a school-aged or young child to work between the hours of 10pm and 6am. A further restriction prohibits children between the ages of 11 and 13 years from carrying out delivery work between the hours of 6pm and 6am.

Application

Prohibited hours

School-aged and young children

Between 10pm and 6am

Children between the ages of 11 and 13 years carrying out delivery work

Between 6pm and 6am

Supervision of working children

An employer must ensure that school-aged or young children involved in delivery work or the exchange of money are appropriately supervised and have an adult near to, and in regular contact with, the child.

Exemptions to restrictions on children working

The restrictions upon age, hours, shifts and breaks listed above do not apply to children working in a family business or in the entertainment industry. The legislation makes separate provisions for the employment of children working in the entertainment industry.

The restrictions upon the age when children may work do not apply in the case of voluntary work, but all other restrictions do apply.

The above restrictions do not apply if the child is permitted or authorised under an Act or a Special Circumstances Certificate to do the work, or work in the way, or when, the Regulation states the child may not work.

Chief Executive may prohibit or limit the work a child may do

The Chief Executive of the Office of Industrial Relations may prohibit a child from performing work that would ordinarily be permissible or prohibit a child from working for a stated employer by issuing a work limitation notice.

A work limitation notice will only be issued if it is reasonably believed that the work may interfere with a child's schooling or be harmful to their health, safety or their physical, mental, moral or social development.

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

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