What age can I start work?

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When can I start work?

Generally, there is a minimum age of 13 for employment. However to work without a special permit, you must be at least 15. There are some exceptions to this:

There is no minimum age for the employment of children in a family business or in the entertainment industry.

If you are older than 11, you can work delivering newspapers and advertising material or making deliveries for a registered pharmacist.

If you are under 15 it is against the law for an employer to break these conditions:

  • unless you are employed in a family business, your employer must have a Child Employment Permit.
  • you can only do light work, such as running errands, office work, gardening, delivering newspapers and being a shop assistant;
  • you cannot work in door-to-door sales, on a construction site unless it is at lock-up stage or on a fishing boat unless it is in inland waters.

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. It is also against the law for your parents or carers to allow you do a kind of work or do a number of hours that interferes with your school work.

If you are under 15 it is against the law for an employer to break these conditions:

  • you cannot work more than 3 hours a day during school term;
  • you cannot work more than 12 hours per week during school term;
  • you cannot work more than 6 hours a day during school holidays (including rest breaks);
  • you cannot work more than 30 hours a week during school holidays (including rest breaks);
  • you cannot work earlier than sunrise or 6am (whichever is later) and after sunset or 6pm (whichever is earlier) if you are working at street markets;
  • you cannot work earlier than 6am or later than 9pm;
  • you must be given a rest break of 30 minutes after every 3 hours work (but your employer is not required to pay you for the break);
  • you must have more than 12 hours between finishing one shift and starting the next.

When can I work full-time?

You can work full-time if you have completed Year 10.  

If you are under 17 years old, you must be either in school, in an approved education or training program or have full-time paid employment.

 

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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