How old do you have to be?

There are different state and territory laws about how old you can be to do certain jobs.

Differences between states

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory there is no minimum age to start paid work, but there are laws which mean that:

  • Students must be enrolled and attending school until they turn 17. The exception to this is if a student is over 15, has completed Year 10, and has an eligible option of full time employment, approved full time study or a combination of part time employment and study. This will then be monitored by the NT Department of Education until you turn 17.
  • You can undertake casual or part time employment in addition to schooling, however this cannot take place during school hours or at times that will interfere with the student’s ability to engage in education. For example, you cannot work after 10pm as it may affect your ability to concentrate at school the next day.

ACT

In the ACT there is no minimum age to start paid work, but there are laws which mean that:

  • If a young person is aged between 12 and not yet 15 they can work a maximum of 6 hours per day.
  • If a young person is under 15 their parents must consent to them working.
  • Someone under 15 can only work up to 10 hours a week; to work more than that the employer would need to get written approval from the Office for Children, Youth and Family Support.
  • Work for someone under 15 needs to be classified as ‘light work’ which can include working as a cashier, working in or around a private home or going on errands.
  • A person under 18 cannot work before 6.00am or sunrise (whichever is later), or after 10.00pm unless agreed to by the Director-General (the person who is in charge of implementing the employment provisions of the Children and Young People Act 2008).
  • Work is not allowed to get in the way of someone under 18 going to school or other education training.

More information can be found in the Education and Training Directorate’s guide Young People at Work in the ACT.

Western Australia

In WA, some jobs have special exemptions for children. There are no minimum ages for children working in their family business, or with a performance such as a drama or music or making of an advertisement.

Otherwise, generally you need to be at least 15 years old to do most jobs. There are some types of jobs you can do when you are younger.

If you are between 10 and 13 years old, you:

  • can only work to deliver newspapers, pamphlets or advertising;
  • can only work between 6am and 7pm, and outside school hours;
  • must have a parent with you when you do your deliveries (or an adult who has written permission from one of your parents).

If you are between 13 and 15 years old, you can:

  • only work between 6am and 10pm, and outside school hours;
  • deliver newspapers, pamphlets or advertising (without an adult present);
  • work in a shop;
  • work in a restaurant or café;
  • collect shopping trolleys in a shopping area.

If you are between 15 and 17 years old:

  • you must attend school up to the end of the year you turn 17 (though there are some exceptions);
  • until you have left school, you cannot work at a job during normal school hours.

It is against the law for children to work in an indecent, obscene or pornographic manner. If you are asked to work in this manner you should report it to the police straight away.

NSW

In NSW there is no minimum age to start paid work, but there are laws which mean that:

  • If you are under 15, you can’t sell anything door-to-door or work in entertainment (eg still photography, film, television, or advertising);
  • If you haven’t yet completed Year 10, you can’t work during school hours unless you have permission from the Principal of your school or the NSW Department of Education and Training.

For more information go to Lawstuff.

Victoria

Working for your family

There are no minimum age requirements if you work for a family business or on a family farm, but you must be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times.  Also, your work must not disrupt your schooling and you can only do light work.

Delivery work

In Victoria, if you are 11, you can do delivery work such as, delivering newspapers, delivering advertising or making deliveries for a pharmacist.

Light work

In Victoria, once you turn 13 you can do other kinds of work besides delivery work. However, the work must be light work.  Light work can be defined as:

  • Work that is not harmful to your health, safety, development or your moral and material welfare.
  • Work that does not disrupt your schooling.

Your employer must have child employment permit before they can offer you a job.

South Australia

In South Australia there is no minimum age to start paid work, but there are laws which mean that:

  • If you are under the age of 16, you cannot work during hours that you are required to be at school.
  • You can work full-time when you are 17.
  • You can work full-time when you are 16 and you have a year 12 qualification from a high school or a certificate 2 qualification from TAFE, apprenticeship, traineeship or university.
  • You can work full-time when you are 16 and your full time work is an apprenticeship or traineeship that is part of an approved learning program.

Tasmania

In Tasmania there is no minimum age to start paid work, but there are laws which mean that:

  • If you are under 11, you can’t sell anything in a public place or be at a public place with items that you intend to sell;
  • If you are under 14, you can’t sell anything between the hours of 9:00pm at night and 5:00am in the morning;
  • If you are under 16 you can’t work during school hours unless you have permission from the Secretary of Education (including up until the end of the school year in which you turn 16).

Queensland

In Queensland the minimum age to start paid work is 13 years, but if you are aged between 11 and 13 years you can work under supervision if the work involves delivering newspapers or advertising material between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm.

However, if you work in a family business or in the entertainment industry there are no age restrictions.

If you are of school-age (under 16 years old) you will need your parents’ permission to work, and you’re not allowed to work during school hours unless you have special permission from the Chief Executive of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.