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  • Writer's pictureJessika Pickett

Employing Young People

Australia’s labour market has undergone a dramatic shift since the 2008 global financial crisis. Traditional models of work included permanent and full-time employment.[1] However, changing social, economic and technological conditions have transformed Australia’s labour market[2] so that modern work arrangements are largely part-time and insecure (casualised).[3] Casualised employment in the service industry has doubled in the past two (2) decades amongst people aged 20-24 years old.[4] Therefore, employers must now regularly make decisions about how to recruit, develop and terminate young people.


How the employment of young people is regulated:


If your business is recruiting new staff, it is important to be aware of and understand the various legislative regimes which regulate the employment of young people in Australia. Various provisions focus on protecting young people by monitoring working conditions.[5]


The minimum age for working and approaches to regulation differs between the states and territories in Australia. If your business operates in New South Wales and employs young people, you should familiarise yourself with the following:

  • Industrial Relations (Child Employment) Act 2006 (NSW);

  • Industrial Relations Act (NSW) 1996;

  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW); and

  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) (Child Employment) Regulation 2015.

The above-mentioned legislative regimes include, but are not limited to, the following general restrictions:

  • Type of work;

  • Hours of work including schooling requirements;

  • Minimum wage (Awards);

  • Parental consent; and

  • Record keeping and supervision obligations.

Recent spotlight:


Recently, a dental operator in Ballina received a large penalty for a matter involving a young part-time dental assistant in his practice.[6] The employer failed to pay accrued entitlements, including annual leave, upon resignation by the employee. As a result of these actions, the employer received a compliance notice from the Fair Work Ombudsman which required him to back-pay accrued, but untaken leave entitlements, owed to the employee.[7] However, the employer further failed to comply with the notice and subsequently received a $5,328 penalty.[8]


This recent case highlights the Fair Work Ombudsman’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable workers, including young employees.


If you need assistance in relation to employment law matters, please contact Jenkins Legal & Advisory on 02 4929 2000 or email


This article is not legal advice and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.




[1] Brotherhood of St Laurence, ‘Part-time purgatory: Young and underemployed in Australia’ (Campaign, December 2018) 1 (‘Young and underemployed).

[2] Breen Creighton, ‘Employment security and atypical work in Australia’ (1005) 16 Comparative Labor Law Journal 291.

[3] Young and underemployed (n1) 1.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Joellen Riley, ‘Legislative developments: Employing minors in New South Wales: The Industrial Relations (Child Employment) Act 2006 (NSW)’ (2007) 20 Australian Journal of Labour Law 300. 

[6] Fair Work Ombudsman, ‘Dentist Penalised’ (Media Release on webpage, 15 November 2023) <> (Dentist Penalised).

[7] Fair Work Ombudsman, ‘Dentist faces court’ (media release on webpage, 21 December 2022) <>

[8] Dentist Penalised (n6).


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