There are a few pivotal moments in a young person’s life that cement the change from a teenager to a young adult. Finishing schooling, getting a driver licence and being old enough to go to a bar or nightclub are all moments that would count.
Another big one is getting a job and earning your own money. It can be an exciting time for young workers and spells a lot of financial freedoms that come along with earning a wage. But as a young worker do you understand the laws that surround your employment? Do you know what your rights are if you are injured at work?
What is the legal working age in Australia?
The age you legally can start work depends on the state or territory you live in and the type of work you wish to undertake. Take a look state-to-state as there are some variants for the ages in which you can start working, one thing that is common to each state is your employment cannot inhibit your schooling attendance.
Click on your state to find out the legal working age requirements.
New South Wales
There is no legal working age in New South Wales to have casual or part-time work. As with all states, working hours shouldn’t interfere with schooling commitments.
Generally the minimum age for employment is 13. This is lowered to 11 where the child carries out supervised delivery work that involves delivering newspapers, advertising material or similar items between the hours of 6am and 6pm.
There is a minimum age of 11 years for children delivering newspapers and advertising material, or making deliveries for a registered pharmacist. In other types of work, there is a minimum age of 13 years (this excludes the entertainment industry where there is no minimum age).
There are restrictions on the type of job and working hours for children under 15 years of age in Western Australia. Young people are able to work if they meet the legal working age restrictions as long as it does not prevent school attendance.
There is no minimum working age in South Australia. However, a child of compulsory school age, which is between 6 and 16 years of age, cannot be employed during the hours that they are required to attend school. Nor are they allowed to work at a time, such as late at night or early in the morning, which is likely to render them unfit to attend school.
There is no minimum age to start casual or part-time work in Tasmania but there are age restrictions for certain types of work, eg. Working behind a bar you have to be 18 years and over. Your working hours however cannot interfere with schooling.
Australian Captial Territory
In the ACT hours of work are not restricted for young people from 15 to 17. Employment, however, must not adversely affect a young person’s ability to benefit from education.
There is no set age for when you can start working. However, if you are under the age of 15 you can't work between 10pm and 6am, which rules out night shifts.
Young worker safety tips
As a younger worker you can bring a great dynamic to the workforce and if trained and supervised correctly can be a valuable member of any workplace. Some risks are commonplace for younger employees and you may be less aware of Workplace Health and Safety risks and responsibilities. At you may be less likely to ask questions or raise safety concerns for fear of getting in trouble or losing your job.
Ways to keep yourself safe on the job:
- You are responsible for your own safety and also the safety of others.
- Follow the rules or how you have been shown how to do something – don’t take shortcuts.
- If you are not adequately trained to do something – don’t do it.
- Ensure you use the right tools and equipment in the way they are intended to be used.
- Be sure to assess the risks for yourself before approaching your work.
- There is a time and place to muck around with your new work colleagues, keep it off the job site and out of work hours.
Always wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for your industry and workplace.
Workers Compensation Claims Process
No matter your age, if you’re unable to work due to a workplace incident, you may be eligible to claim compensation through a workers compensation claim. Below are the steps you need to take ensure your recovery and that you’re covered for the incident.
Report the incident to your employer as soon as possible, the best way to do this is either via the formal incident reporting mechanisms for your workplace or send an email to your manager or Workplace Health and Safety Officer giving full details of the incident. Be sure to keep a record for yourself.
Ensure you seek medical advice and undergo any necessary treatment for your injuries. It is important to get yourself assessed even if you think the injury is only minor, as injuries have a way of evolving over time. Be sure to explain fully what happened to you and that you were injured at your workplace.
In New South Wales and Victoria: You need to get a certificate of capacity, which is an official legal document that outlines the facts told to your doctor by you of your workplace incident and the injuries you have sustained. You will need this to lodge a WorkCover claim and any subsequent workers compensation claims through a lawyer. It is important that you list all injuries, even if they seem minor at the time.
In Queensland: For the workers’ compensation insurer to accept a statutory workers’ compensation claim they will need a medical certificate completed by your doctor. Ensure you have this completed when you attend upon them for treatment.
By law your employer should provide you with a workers compensation claim form when you report your incident to them. If they don’t or won’t provide you with the form you can obtain one from your doctor or your state or territory WorkCover authority. See links below for online forms you can print and fill out.
Be sure not to forget this important step in the process. Keep copies of everything you submit which should include; the workers compensation claim form and your Certificate of Capacity or Workers Compensation Medical Certificate.
If you claim doesn’t go as planned or is rejected by the insurer it is important that you seek legal advice sooner rather than later to discuss your options. There are very strict time frames in relation to these matters so it is vital to seek legal advice at an early stage.
Speak Up – a new SafeWork NSW initiative
A way that young people can make reports on work health and safety concerns in a confidential way is to report it via the SafeWork NSW website.
Contact Shine Lawyers
We understand that as a younger employee it can be daunting to have to deal with a workplace injury and claiming for compensation. At Shine Lawyers we take the stress out of the process and will guide you through the claims process, each step of the way. Please get in touch with Shine today to know your rights.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: March 6, 2020.