After-school casual workers – What are the rules?

Hiring after-school casuals can benefit both employer and employee, but it’s not always easy to get a grasp on the rules surrounding their employment – especially as they differ state to state.

Having an after-school job is a rite of passage for many young people, and small businesses are key employers.

But before you start advertising for an after-school position, it’s important that you have a beat on the rules that may affect you in your area.

In Australia, the rules around minimum ages of employment are set by each state, but in New Zealand there’s one set of ruleswhich you can find out about here.

For example, in most cases, it’s perfectly fine to employ a child in the family business – although do check each state’s regulator (links below).

There’s also a broad understanding that the work to be undertaken should be ‘light’ in nature and fully supervised.

It’s important not just to do things by the book, but to also have a plan to make sure the experience is a great one for both you and any after-school casual you hire.


After-school employee laws for Australian businesses, by state


As mentioned, the rules around employment eligibility of young workers differs by state in Australia (and there are a whole set of different rules for workers in entertainment) – so it’s important to know that you’re playing by the rules.

New South Wales

In NSW, there’s no legal age limit for part time or casual employment after school – but there are restrictions on full time work if they’re below the school-leaver age of 15.

To find out more, head here.

Victoria

Generally speaking, the minimum age of work is 13.

If the worker is under 15, you must obtain a child employment permit (you can apply online, and they’re free)

There are also a few restrictions around hours to be aware of.

Children can only be employed for three hours per day, and 12 per week during the school term.

To find out more, head here.

Queensland

Generally speaking, the minimum age of work in Queensland is 13.

On a school day, a school-aged worker can work a maximum of four hours, but this increases to eight hours on days they are not required to attend school.

Additionally, school-aged children must be given a one-hour break after four hours of consecutive work.

You can find out more here.

Western Australia

In WA the standard minimum working age is 13.

They need written permission from a parent, can’t work within school hours, and can’t start work before 6am or finish after 10pm.

You can find out more here.

South Australia

There’s no minimum working age in South Australia – but those of school age (between six and 16) can’t be employed during school hours.

They’re also not allowed to work late at night or early in the morning.

You can find out more here.

ACT

In the ACT, you can hire somebody under the age of 15 for after-school casual work, but they’re not allowed to work more than 10 hours per week.

You also can’t let them work before 6am or after 10pm each day.

You can find more information here [PDF].

Tasmania

In Tasmania, there’s no minimum age when a person can start work – but according to the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania, you can’t employ somebody under the age of 16 during school hours.

There are a few exceptions when it comes to selling things in public places, such as at a market.

For example, a child under the age of 11 can’t work in sales, while those under the age of 14 can do so, but can’t sell anything between 9pm and 5am.

Northern Territory

Finally, in the NT there is no legal age for when employees can start work – but there are restrictions around working between 10pm and 6am, and the type of work they can do.

You also can’t employ a person under the age of 15 during school hours.

You can find out more here.


The approach


Just because you can employ an after-school casual, doesn’t mean you should.

Because often, those employed will have had no workplace experience, they require more attention than regular employees (and in fact must be supervised).

You should also take the time to explain things to young workers that regular workers take for granted.

For example, you should talk to them about workers’ basic entitlements and leave arrangement, how and when wages are paid, and what to do in case they fall ill and can’t work.

Beyond the basics, you should also explain what they’re expected to do and how you measure their performance.

Remember, this is often their first time in the workplace – so while some casuals may be very confident, others will be unsure about what they’re doing.

This means spending time with them and explaining things like what they should be doing when they’ve finished with an assigned task.

There are all sorts of things you could be doing to make the casual worker fit in, but the most important tip is this:

Remember what it was like when you started work.

If you’re like most people, you were more than likely a little bit scared, a little bit confused and in need of reassurance.

Give them that reassurance, and you’ll be well on your way to having a great after-school casual.