What age can I start work?

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When can I start work?

The general minimum age for starting work is 13 years.  

If you are 11 or older, you can do delivery work such as delivering newspapers and advertising leaflets.  If you are aged 11 or 12, you cannot do delivery work between 6pm and 6am.

There is no minimum age for working in a family business or in the entertainment industry.

If you are under 16 and required to be enrolled at school, you need a parent’s consent to work.  

What hours can I work?

It is against the law for an employer to employ you during hours that you are required to be at school.  

There are limits on the number of hours you can work.

If you are under 16 and required to be enrolled in school

  • During a school week, you cannot work more than 12 hours and only up to four hours per day;  
  • During school holidays, you cannot work more than 38 hours and only up to eight hours per day;
  • You cannot work more than four hours without a one hour break;
  • You cannot work if you have already worked for the same employer within the last 12 hours;
  • You cannot do more than one shift each day;
  • You cannot work between 10pm and 6am.

Children who are not old enough to start school:

  • cannot work more than 12 hours in a week;
  • cannot work more than four hours in a day;
  • cannot work if the child has already worked for the same employer within the last 12 hours.

When can I work full-time?

You can work full-time when you have completed year 10 or turned 16 years of age, whichever occurs first.

You must either be in school, in an approved education or training program or have full-time paid employment until you turn 17, complete year 12 or have completed two years of further education, employment or training, whichever happens first.

Where can I get further help?

Employees can test their knowledge about pay in the FWO’s Workplace Basics Quiz, available here.

For information and advice about the Fair Work System including your rights, entitlements and obligations, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website or call the Fair Work Info line on 13 13 94.

If you are under 25 and you are unsure about your rights or responsibilities or what to do next, you can get free, confidential legal advice here.


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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