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 there are certain limits on the hours you can work until you turn 15.  

You can only work full time if you have completed year 10, or turned 17, or have the permission of the Department of Education.

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How old do I need to be to start work in New South Wales?

There is no minimum age to start casual or part-time work in NSW.  

If you are taking part in work involving entertainment, an exhibition or door-to-door sales, your employer has some additional obligations to fulfill before you start work.

What hours can I work?

If you are under 15, it is against the law for an employer to require you to work: 

  • During school hours, unless you have: 
      • Approval from your school principal or Department of Education, or 
      • You are enrolled by distance education, or 
      • You are registered for home schooling and employment is permitted by the conditions of your home-schooling registration
      • More than one shift per day
      • More than four hours on a day you have to go to school
      • More than five consecutive days
      • After 9pm if you have to go to school the next day
      • If it is less than 12 hours since your last shift, even if your second shift is with a different employer
      • For any hours that make the combination of your school hours and work hours in a 7-day week more than 50 hours

You must also be given a 1-hour rest break in each 4-hour period of work.

There are additional rules about working hours if you are doing modelling, theatrical performances, or entertainment work. For more information, you can visit the Office of the Children’s Guardian website. 

If your employer is requiring you to work outside of these hours or you have a question about your work hours, you can contact us here. 

Can I work more during school holidays?

During school holidays you can work during school hours and after 9pm.  

What rules apply once I turn 15?

Once you turn 15 these restrictions will no longer apply. However, your employment contract, Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement may have some information that apply to your hours of work. For more information, you can visit our page on working conditions. 

If you are modelling, restrictions on work hours apply until you turn 16 years old.

When can I work full-time?

You can work full-time after you finish year 10 or turn 17. If you have finished year 10 but haven’t turned 17 yet, you need to: 

  • do some other form of education or training, or 
  • work at least 25 hours a week, or 
  • do a combination of work, education, and training.

For more information, you can visit our leaving school page. 

Where can I get further help?

For information and advice about your rights, entitlements and obligations as an employee, check out 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 or by calling 1800 953 673. 

Youth Law Australia would like to express thanks to Hall & Wilcox and the Fair Work Ombudsman for assisting us with the preparation of this material.

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