A community tip-off to the Wage Inspectorate triggered an investigation but the food outlet continued to employ under-15s without a licence.
Gippsland restaurant fined $4k for breaking child work laws
A Gippsland restaurant has been fined $4,000 after pleading guilty to 40 breaches of Victoria’s child employment laws.
The Three Double 8 Zero Pizza Bar & Grill in Paynesville owned up to a range of offenses, from employing under-15s without a permit to breaking shift and restbreak rules.
Wage Inspectorate Victoria said it began investigating the restaurant after receiving a community tip-off and found that despite being contacted by the regulator about child employment matters in November 2022, it continued to breach child employment conditions.
Sentencing in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court magistrate Carolyn Howe said that a community member had been so concerned for one child’s welfare that they reported the restaurant and its failure to act once the investigation was underway showed a lax attitude toward its employer obligations.
However, she did not record a conviction after taking into account the restaurant’s contribution to the Paynesville community and early guilty plea.
The restaurant pleaded guilty to:
- Employing five children under 15 without a permit on 161 occasions.
- Employing children for more hours than they are permitted to work.
- Employing children later than 9pm.
- Failing to provide rest breaks of 30-minutes for every three hours worked.
- Failing to provide a break of at least 12 hours between shifts.
The offences took place between 22 May 2022 and 5 February 2023.
Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria Robert Hortle said “it beggars belief” that the business continue to employ children for two months after an investigation started.
“It shows a disregard for the law and the potential risks to children,” he said.
“This matter serves as a warning to any business shirking child employment laws. Not only do we have officers inspecting businesses across Victoria, but we have a community that is very protective of children’s wellbeing and will let us know when they see something of concern, as happened in this case.
“Working can provide valuable experience for kids but there’s risks involved, which is why a business needs a licence to employ kids under 15.”
“Kids under 15 are still developing and don’t have the stamina of adults, so they need rest breaks, a suitable gap between shifts and they shouldn’t be working late.
“The message is simple – getting informed is the first step to complying.”
In Victoria, an employer usually needs a licence to employ someone under 15, whether the work is paid or voluntary. Employing a child without a licence is a crime.
A streamlined child employment licensing system replaced the permit system on 1 July 2023, reducing the burden on business. Employers can employ multiple children under one licence.
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