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TK Maxx faces 33 charges over child labour laws

Regulation

Victorian store in court after Wage Inspectorate raids scores of businesses during the school holidays.

By Philip King 9 minute read

Clothing retailer TK Maxx faces criminal charges over alleged breaches of child employment laws at its Werribee store in Victoria.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria, the state’s child employment regulator, has filed 33 charges against TJX Australia Pty Limited, trading as TK Maxx, alleging its Werribee store contravened the Child Employment Act 2003 by:

  • Employing two children under 15 without a permit on 12 occasions.
  • Failing to ensure children were supervised by someone with a Working with Children Clearance.
  • Employing a child for more hours than they are permitted to work
  • Employing a child later than 9pm.
  • Failing to provide children with a 30-minute rest break for every 3 hours worked.

The maximum penalty for each offence is $18,429 and the matter has been listed for mention in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 8 November.

The Wage Inspectorate said it began investigating TK Maxx following a child employment compliance blitz over the summer school holidays, which focused on retail businesses in shopping centres across Melbourne.

Wage Inspectorate officers inspected 169 businesses across eight shopping centres, including Chadstone, Southland, Eastland and Highpoint.

It required 69 retail businesses to produce information about any workers under 15.

The compliance blitz led to four investigations and identified 29 suspected offences. In addition to charges served to TK Maxx, three other businesses received official warnings.

Wage Inspectorate said the blitz served as a valuable educational opportunity with many employers in the dark about child work laws. Some believed that a child could work at the age of 14 years and 9 months and that no specific laws applied once they reached that age.

However, Victoria’s child employment laws required employers of anyone under 15 to have a child employment permit or licence before any work took place. Workers under 15 had to be supervised by someone who held a valid Victorian Working with Children Clearance (unless exempt).

Child employment laws also restrict when businesses can employ children and how long they can work:

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Philip King

Philip King

AUTHOR

Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

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