Legal Assistance for individuals under the age of 18 offered by Legal Aid Queensland

Who do these regulations apply to and why do they exist?

Special child labor regulations apply to all individuals under 18 years old.

These regulations aim to:

  • safeguard you from participating in work that may be detrimental to your health and safety, or physical, mental, ethical, and social well-being
  • ensure that work does not interfere with your education when you should be attending school.

There are two primary categories of individuals they address:

  • school-aged individuals under 16 years old who should be enrolled in school
  • individuals working in the entertainment industry.

What do these regulations accomplish?

These regulations place limitations on:

  • the minimum age for employment
  • the type of work that can be performed
  • the number of hours allowed for work while attending school.

There are no age restrictions for voluntary work or work in the entertainment industry (specific regulations apply there-see below).

Generally, the minimum age for employment is 13 years. However, children between the ages of 11 and 13 can engage in supervised delivery work, such as delivering newspapers or other advertising material, between the hours of 6am and 6pm.

If you are attending school, the age at which you can work is 13. The maximum hours of work permitted for school-aged individuals are:

On a school day On a non-school day During a school week During a non-school week
4 8 12 38

A young child (who is not old enough to attend school, i.e. up to 6.5 years) can work (e.g. babies appearing in a TV commercial) for up to four hours on a non-school day and 12 hours per week on a non-school week.

If you are under 16 years old and have not yet completed year 10, you are prohibited from working between 10 pm and 6 am. There are additional limitations for individuals aged between 11 and 13 years old performing delivery work between the hours of 6am and 6pm.

These limitations regarding age and hours of work do not apply when you are employed in your family's business or in the entertainment industry (specific regulations apply there - see below).

What types of work do these regulations cover?

Work is broadly defined by these regulations to include various arrangements such as employment contracts, work performed in a for-profit business, or work as a supervisor.

Work does not include household chores that are carried out as part of family responsibilities.

These regulations do not apply to work carried out as part of:

  • work experience
  • vocational placements
  • apprenticeships
  • traineeships
  • charitable collections covered by other legislation.

What are the requirements for my parents?

Under these regulations, your parents must provide their consent.

These regulations prohibit an employer from hiring a child of school age until they acquire a signed form of consent from the child's parent.

A parent also commits an offense if they hire or allow their child to be hired during school hours unless they have a reasonable excuse.

The parent's authorization form must be signed by your parent and include information for the employer about the hours when you are required to be at school. A new form must be completed when those hours change.

What is required of my employer?

These laws make it illegal for an employer to hire a school-aged child until they have obtained a signed parent's authorization form. The employer must keep the signed authorization form on your record.

These laws establish offenses and penalties for employers who do not comply with the law.

Inspectors monitor compliance and investigate and address any allegations that these laws have been violated.

What is a special circumstances certificate?

You can apply to the Director-General of the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation for a certificate to indicate that certain restrictions do not apply to you. For example, restrictions regarding the hours or type of work you can perform, do not apply to you.

You can apply for this special circumstances certificate if you are a young person who is living independently, to state that you do not require a parent's authorization form.

These certificates may only be granted if the Director-General reasonably believes that what you are requesting:

  • will not disrupt your schooling
  • will not be detrimental to your health or safety or physical, mental, moral, or social development.

What if I work in the entertainment industry?

Special child employment laws apply to you if you work in the entertainment industry. There is no minimum age that applies if you work in the entertainment industry, but special regulations have been established regarding:

  • maximum hours of work and prohibited hours of work
  • shifts and breaks
  • when adult supervision is required.

What is a work limitation notice?

The Director-General of the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation may prevent you from engaging in work that would typically be permissible or prohibit you from working for a specific employer by issuing a work limitation notice.

The Director-General will only issue a work limitation notice if it is reasonably believed that the work may interfere with your schooling or be detrimental to your health or safety or your physical, mental, moral, or social development.

You may require legal advice if you

  • want to understand the impact of the Child Employment laws on your ability to work
  • are experiencing issues with your apprenticeship or traineeship
  • have been terminated from your job
  • have experienced a change in your employment conditions that you are dissatisfied with
  • are uncertain about signing an employment contract or workplace agreement.

Legal Aid Queensland may provide legal advice on employment and work-related matters.

The following organizations may also be able to offer legal advice on your situation.

Caxton Legal Centre—Employment law advice service can provide advice on unfair, unlawful, and constructive dismissal, workplace bullying, and discrimination issues. Contact them to inquire if they can assist.

Youth Advocacy Centre offers a community legal and social welfare service for young individuals up to 18 years old.

LawThing is a legal counsel service for young individuals that offers complimentary legal guidance to individuals below 18 years old through email.

YFS Legal provides legal details and counsel to young individuals aged under 25.

LGBTI Legal Service offers complimentary legal counsel and details to LGBTI clients, including legal advice concerning employment.

Community legal centers offer legal advice on a variety of subjects. Get in touch with them to check if they can assist with your problem.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialized private solicitor for guidance or representation.

Who else can assist?

The following organizations might be able to assist you with your employment issue. They do not provide legal advice.

Commonwealth Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) provides information and counsel on workplace regulations, rights and responsibilities, and investigates complaints and suspected breaches of workplace regulations, awards and agreements. FWO can assist if you have been employed under a fake contract that prevents you from receiving entitlements.

Fair Work Commission is the national workplace relations tribunal and can offer information about unjust dismissals, general protections, workplace harassment and bullying, and how to file an application.

Apprenticeships Info offers complimentary advice, referrals, and support to all Queenslanders regarding apprenticeships, traineeships, and training options.

Office of Industrial Relations - Queensland provides information about workplace relations, including lengthy service leave, child employment, private employment agents, trading hours, workers' accommodations, public holidays, and wages and conditions for public sector and local government employees.

Queensland Industrial Relations Commission is an independent tribunal established to mediate and arbitrate industrial matters in Queensland. QIRC offers information about whether you are covered by State or Federal legislation.

WorkSafe Qld is the state government department that handles complaints regarding workplace harassment, safety, and fatigue. They also provide information on filing a complaint internally through your workplace or externally through their complaints process.

Department of Industry - Single Business Service offers information and referral services to independent contractors.

Australian Coalition of Trade Unions if you are a labor organization member, you can seek assistance on employment matters from your own labor organization.

Queensland Human Rights Commission provides information and resolve complaints about bias in public life, including in the workplace.

Australian Human Rights Commission provides information on human rights and resolve complaints about bias or violations of human rights under federal laws.

Queensland Working Women's Service provides a free, confidential advisory service to help Queensland women with work related matters. QWWS may also assist with advocacy and referrals regarding labor relations matters including employment rights, unfair dismissal, bias, and harassment.

Financial counseling can help if you are experiencing financial difficulty because of illness or job loss. They may be able to assist in arranging for payments to be reduced or postponed. have information for young people about employment intimidation, including how to recognize intimidation behavior and how to get help.

Disclaimer: This page is provided as information only, and is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should reach out to us or speak to a lawyer. View our complete disclaimer.

Last updated 18 November 2022

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