When can I start working?

Do you have a question about work? For free and confidential legal advice you can ask us a question here or contact us on 1800 953 673 (9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday)

You can start working at any age; however, your employer will have to follow certain rules depending on your age. You can only work full time when you have completed year 12, or turned 17, or have the permission of the Department of Education and Training.

If you are unsure about any of the rules regarding when you can work, please contact us here.

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How old do I need to be to start work in the ACT?

There is no minimum age to start casual or part-time work in ACT.  However, if you are under the age of 15, you can only do light work. This applies even if you are working for a family business. Examples of light work are:

  1. running errands
  2. casual work in and around a private home
  3. work related to sporting activities such as being and umpire, referee or tennis court attendant
  4. clerical work
  5. work as a cashier
  6. gardening
  7. babysitting
  8. modelling
  9. performing arts (including film, television, theatre).

If you are under 15, your parents will need to give written permission to your employer before you commence work.

How many hours can I work?

There are limits on how many hours you can work each day depending on your age:

  1. Children aged 0 – 3 can work for 3 hours a day;
  2. Children aged 4 – 11 can work 4 hours a day;
  3. Children aged 12 – 14 can work 6 hours a day;

If you are under 15 years old, you cannot work more than 10 hours in a week.

If an employer wants you to work more than 10 hours a week (such as in school holidays), they need to contact the director-general at least a week before the work starts.

What hours can I work?

It is against the law for an employer to employ you during hours you are required to be at school. You cannot be required to do work that is not in your best interests, such as work that interferes with your schoolwork.

In addition to this, if you are under 15:

  • You must have at least 12 hours between each shift;
  • You cannot work more than one shift per day;
  • You cannot work before 6am or sunrise (whichever is later) or after 10pm.

If you have any concerns regarding the hours that you work please contact us here.

When can I work full-time?

You can work full-time when you turn 17 or when you finish year 12, whichever happens first.
You can also make an application to work full-time if you have completed year 10.  To do this you or your parents need to apply to the Chief Executive of the ACT Department of Education and Training for approval. You will need your parent’s consent to do this (unless the Chief Executive decides that is not reasonable). For information on how to apply, click here.

Where can I get further help?

You can visit our other factsheets related to work here:

For information and advice about your rights, entitlements and obligations as an employee, check out our other employment topics or visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

If you are 24 or under and you are unsure about your rights or responsibilities or what to do next, you can get free, confidential legal advice here.

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