Wage inspector charges Muffin Blake with child safety and employment violations

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Victoria’s Wages Inspectorate, Victoria’s child employment watchdog, has charged Muffin Blake’s Southland location in Melbourne with 360 counts of violating the Child Employment Act.

Victoria’s Child Employment Observatory claims the following about Southland’s Muffin Blake:

  • Employed three children under the age of 15 without permission 111 times.
  • We were unable to verify that the children were supervised by someone with child clearance (WWC clearance);
  • Did not give children a break of at least 30 minutes after every 3 hours of work.
  • Employed a child for more than 3 hours a day during the school term.and
  • Employed children for more than 6 hours a day during school holidays.

Each of these violations carries a penalty of up to 100 penalty units (currently $18,429). The matter is scheduled to be referred to the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 15 June 2023.

The case is the eighth child employment prosecution by the Victorian Wage Inspection Authority in the past 18 months. Many of these indictments relate to restaurants and cafes, but there are also investigations into other workplaces such as chemists, tutoring firms and fashion companies.Indictments are the most important compliance tool for regulators. Yes, and any decision to take legal action will be made in line with its compliance and enforcement policies.

Under Victorian Child Employment Law, employers employing children under the age of 15 must obtain permission from the Wages Inspection Office before performing any work. This allows wage inspectors to ensure that issues such as safety, working hours, breaks and supervision are properly considered before employment begins. Workers under the age of 15 must be supervised by a person with WWC clearance and the relevant organization must comply with Victorian child safety standards (CSS).

This article summarizes the main obligations that apply to organizations that employ children under the age of 15, and lessons learned from current prosecutions.

child employment

In Victoria, employers of children under the age of 15 must: Child Employment Act 2005 (Big) (child employment law). This law is intended to protect children from:

  • health and safety;
  • moral and material well-being;
  • development;
  • attending school; and
  • Ability to benefit from instruction.

To employ children under the age of 15, employers must apply for a permit from Wage Inspectorate Victoria. The application must outline details of future employment, including the child’s job duties, the hours he or she is expected to work, and whether employment will occur during and during school hours.

If the permit is approved, the employer must ensure the child:

  • Light work only.
  • Employed for a maximum of 3 hours a day and 12 hours a week during the semester.
  • Employed for a maximum of 6 hours a day, up to 30 hours a week, during non-semester hours.
  • A break of at least 30 minutes is provided for every three hours of work.and
  • At least 12 hours between shifts.

Violation of any of these conditions will result in a penalty of up to 100 penalty units (currently $18,429) for legal entities and 60 penalty units (currently $11,095.20) for all others.

From 1 July 2023, the Child Employment License Scheme will replace the existing permit scheme, allowing employers to employ multiple children under one license.

child safe standards

Organizations that employ children under the age of 15 and are required to obtain a permit to employ children must also comply with the CSS.1CSS sets out mandatory standards that organizations must meet in order to protect children from harm and abuse. CSS requires:

  1. The organization establishes a culturally safe environment where the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal children and young people are respected and valued.
  2. Child safety and well-being are embedded in the organization’s leadership, governance and culture.
  3. Children and young people are empowered about their rights and are able to participate in and be taken seriously in decisions that affect them.
  4. Families and communities are informed and involved in promoting the safety and well-being of children.
  5. Equity is maintained and diverse needs are respected in policies and practices.
  6. Those who work with children and young people are qualified and supported to reflect the values ​​of child safety and well-being in practice.
  7. The complaints and concerns process focuses on children.
  8. Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through continuing education and training.
  9. Physical and online environments promote safety and well-being while minimizing opportunities for harm to children and young people.
  10. Our implementation of child safety standards is regularly reviewed and improved.
  11. Policies and procedures document how an organization is safe for children and young people.

On 1 January 2023, the Victorian Wages Supervisory Authority will become the sector regulator with responsibility for promoting child safety outcomes and for monitoring and enforcing CSS compliance of organizations employing children under the age of 15. I suffered.2

To regulate compliance with the CSS, Victorian Wage Inspectors have the power to enter premises, search and demand documents. Compliance powers range from formal warnings and notices of compliance to filing for injunctions and enforcement orders, as seen at Muffin Break. The magistrate’s court can also order fines to be paid if the organization fails to comply.

The maximum penalty for violations is 120 penalty units (currently $22,190.40) for legal entities and 60 penalty units (currently $11,095.20) for all others.

Processing Children’s Check Clearance

There are also a number of requirements for employers or employees to supervise children during employment.under child employment law, child supervision is considered “child-related work”. Therefore, unless an exemption applies, the person supervising the child must apply for and obtain WWC clearance for her.

Those who are exempt from WWC clearance are:

  • A person who has a close relationship with a child (i.e., a family member).
  • registered teacher;
  • police officer;
  • Member of the Australian Federal Police.and
  • A person who is not an Australian citizen and who is not ordinarily resident in Australia if not ordinarily engaged in the supervision of children in Victoria.

Supervisors must maintain direct and appropriate supervision of children in employment at all times.3 Employers must also keep a written record of who supervises the child and their WWC clearance number. This must be kept for at least 12 months after the permit has expired.Four

In practice this means that supervision of children under the age of 15 comes with higher responsibilities and that supervisors hold appropriate WWC clearances and ensure that children under the age of 15 are on duty on all shifts. It means that employers must ensure that they provide supervision and are aware of their obligations.

Important Lessons for Employers

The Muffin Blake indictment highlights the complex issues that must be considered for the safe and legal employment of children under the age of 15, and provides important insight into how the Bureau of Wages Inspection is approaching new compliance powers. Offers.


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