Employment rights for under-15s

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If you're under 15 you're allowed to work in Victoria, depending on what the job is or what the work involves.

Some work is illegal for people under a certain age, and most jobs require your boss and supervisor to have both a Child Employment Permit (CEP) and a Working with Children Check to be able to employ people under 15.

Topics on this page include:

> What kind of work you CAN'T do if you're under 15
> What kind of work you CAN do (and at what age)
> ...if you're 11 or 12
> ...if you're 13 or 14
> ...if you're 15 or older
> Working in the entertainment industry
> Working for your family
> Hours you can work
> Wages for u15s
> Child Employment Permits
> Where to find help
> Finding and applying for jobs

What kind of work you CAN'T do if you're under 15

It's illegal for anyone under 15 to do any kind of work other than "light work".

"Light work" means work that won't harm your:

  • health
  • safety
  • development
  • moral and material welfare.

It also means work that doesn't negatively affect:

  • your ability to attend school
  • your learning capacity.

There are also some things you can't do if you're under 15, like:

  • serving alcohol
  • operating heavy machinery
  • working in gaming
  • selling things door-to-door
  • working on a fishing boat at sea
  • working on a building or construction site.

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What kind of work you CAN do (and at what age)

The lower age limit for employment depends on the job.

The minimum working age in Victoria is 11, but there's no minimum age if you're:

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If you're 11 or 12

Until you turn 13, delivery work is the only work you can do in Victoria (unless you're working for your family or in the entertainment industry). Examples of delivery work include:

  • delivering newspapers
  • delivering pamphlets or advertising material
  • making deliveries for a pharmacist.

Unless you're working for your family: 

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If you're 13 or 14

If you're 13 or 14 you can do any kind of work you could do at 11 or 12 (see above). You can also do jobs like:

  • working in retail (like a department store or supermarket)
  • working in hospitality (like a fast food place or a cafe).

However, at this age you still can't:

  • do work that isn't "light work"
  • serve alcohol
  • operate heavy machinery
  • work in gaming
  • sell things door-to-door
  • work on a fishing boat at sea
  • work on a building or construction site.

Note that unless you're working for your family: 

If you have a question about a particular kind of job, or working for a particular employer, contact a Child Employment Officer on 1800 287 287 or email childemployment@ecodev.vic.gov.au to ask about it directly.

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If you're 15 or older

Once you turn 15 or older you're legally able to work in Victoria at any kind of job as long as:

  • you're qualified to do it
  • it doesn't break laws relating to minors (for example, laws relating to driving a vehicle or serving alcohol).

If you're 15 or older your employer no longer needs a Child Employment Permit to be able to employ you.

For more information about employment rights in general, check out the rest of our Employment rights section.

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Working in the entertainment industry

The entertainment industry includes work like:

  • singing, dancing, acting
  • playing a musical instrument
  • appearing in a radio, film, television or internet program that's not a news item
  • modelling
  • appearing in a promotional event or advertising
  • working in a circus

If you work in any of these areas, your rights are set out by Victorian law. The law specifies hours of work, education, supervision, safety and travel arrangements for employment in entertainment.

There's more information about children and the entertainment industry at the Business Victoria website (new window). This page is aimed at businesses, but it still has some useful information on it.

You can also ask questions directly by contacting a Child Employment Officer on 1800 287 287 or childemployment@ecodev.vic.gov.au.

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Working for your family

There's no minimum age for working in your family business or on your family farm. There are also no restrictions about hours of work or rest breaks. There are some other restrictions, though:

  • you have to be supervised by your parent or guardian at all times
  • you can't work on school days during school hours
  • you can only do "light work".

To find out more about working for family businesses or farms, check out Business Victoria's Child Employment Laws page (new window) contact a Child Employment Officer on 1800 287 287 or email childemployment@ecodev.vic.gov.au.

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Hours you can work

The general restrictions around hours of work for employees under 15 are:

  • you can't work on school days during school hours
  • during school term you can only work for a maximum of three hours a day and 12 hours a week
  • during school holidays you can work for a maximum of six hours a day and 30 hours a week
  • you can only work between 6am and 9pm
  • you must get a 30-minute rest break after every three hours you work (the rest break can be paid or unpaid)
  • you must get a break of at least 12 hours between finishing one shift of work and starting the next.

There are no restrictions on the number of hours you can work if you work for your family, but there are restrictions about when you can work those hours (see "Working for your family", above).

To find out more about working hours, check out Business Victoria's Child Employment Laws page (new window), contact a Child Employment Officer on 1800 287 287 or email childemployment@ecodev.vic.gov.au.

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Wages for under-15s

How much you get paid will depend on what sort of contract you're employed under. For information and advice about contracts, visit our Employment contracts page.

To find out more about how much you should be getting paid, visit our Getting paid the right amount page or contact the Fair Work Ombudsman (new window) for information on pay rates and working conditions.

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Child Employment Permits (CEPs)

Unless you work for your family's business or farm (see "Working for your family", above), your employer must have a Child Employment Permit (CEP) from the Victorian Government before you can start working.

A CEP sets out both general and specific conditions to make sure your work is safe and appropriate. For example, people under 15: 

There are two kinds of CEP. They can be downloaded or completed online at the Business Victoria website:

As well as your employer needing a CEP to employ people under 15, anyone supervising employees under 15 has to have a Working with Children Check (new window).

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Where to find more help

If you're under 15 and you have any questions, or if you have a problem at work you want to discuss, you can get in touch with:

Finding and applying for jobs

Now that you know about the kind of work you can do, some of the pages on Youth Central have tips and information about how to find and apply for a job.

Here are some pages with tips for finding a job:

And here are some pages with tips for applying for a job:

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