Ask LH: What’s The Minimum Employable Age In Australia?

Ask LH: What’s The Minimum Employable Age In Australia?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m 13 and I want to start looking for a part time job. What is the legal age limit that I can start working? Where should I be looking when I don’t have any experience? Thanks, Keen Teen

Dear KT,

Each state and territory sets its own rules as to when youths can enter the workforce, along with the type of work they’re allowed to do. So it largely depends on where you live. Here are the basic laws for each region in Australia:


In the ACT, there’s no set age for when you can start working. However, there are restrictions in place that limit the type of work children can do and how many hours they’re allowed to work per day. If you’re under 15, you can only be employed to do ‘light’ work, which includes gardening, running errands, baby sitting, modelling, clerical work and tending a cashier. You can find out more information at the ACT Government’s community services website.


There is no minimum legal age limit for starting work in NSW. You do need to be 14 and 9 months to do door-to-door sales work, however. There are also a bunch of restrictions for employees under 15, which includes no working during school hours, no more than one shift per day, no more than four hours on a school day and no working after 9pm if you have to go to school the next day. You can find a bit more information at the NSW Industrial Relations website.


Until you turn 13, delivery work is the only working option available unless you’re working for your family business or in the entertainment industry. Employers also need to get a Child Employment Permit (CEP) from the Victorian Government before an employee under 15 is allowed to start. People under 15 also can’t be employed during school hours. There’s a bunch of additional information at the Youth Central website, which is run by the Victorian Government.

Northern Territory

There is no set age for when you can start working. If you are under the age of 15 you can’t work between 10pm and 6am, which rules out night shifts. There are also some rules in place to ensure work does not affect the employee’s education. Head to the NT Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment for more information.


Generally the minimum age for employment is 13 years. However, employees are permitted to carry out supervised delivery work between 6am and 6pm from the age of 11. Employees 13 and over can do other forms of work, but require a signed Parent’s Consent Form from their guardian. From Monday to Friday, school-aged children can only work a maximum of four hours. Head to the Qld Department of Justice and Attorney General for a deeper overview.

South Australia

There is no set age for when South Australians can start working, but certain jobs remain off-limits. There are also rules to make sure that the work doesn’t affect education. For more information, try giving the Office of the Employee Ombudsman a call on (08) 8207 1970.

Western Australia

Employees under the age of 15 can work in some jobs with restricted hours. For example, children between 13 and 15 years of age are permitted to work in restaurants and supermarkets between the hours of 6am and 10pm. As with other states, you’re not permitted to work during school hours. Building and construction, trades, child care centres, farms and a range of other businesses are all off-limits until you turn 16. You can find out more at the WA Government’s Work4Youth website.


There is no set age for when youths can start working, but there are limits performing in public and selling things in a public place. For more information call Tasmania Industrial Relations on (03) 6233 3281

Those are the rules for each state and territory as they appear on paper. However, the reality is most employers tend to stick with workers over the age of 14. (In fact, most people mistakenly believe 15 to be the minimum legal working age, simply because that’s the requirement in most job advertisements.) Ergo, you’ll probably need to turn 15 before any decent options become available.

In terms of specific jobs, fast food and retail are good; in part because they like younger workers who are cheaper to hire (even more so than before, thanks to changes to weekend penalty rates.) Having no experience won’t matter at your age; what employers want to see is reliability, good customer rapport and the ability to think on your feet. Being able to get to and from work without relying on your parents may also increase your chances of getting hired — so pick somewhere close to public transport.

Whatever job you go for, just make sure you’re getting the wage and entitlements that you’re entitled to. You can read up on Australia’s minimum hourly wage here and via the Australian Fair Work Ombudsman. Good luck!


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Ask LH: How Do I Get Started In The Workforce?

Dear Lifehacker, I've just turned old enough to get my first job, but am finding it hard to secure a place to work. What places would you say are good for teenagers to start working at? Are there certain times of the year where getting a job is easier than other times of the year? Thanks, Dale.

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  • As someone under 18 your age is the biggest selling point you have. Because you’re under 18 you aren’t paid the full minimum wage. In fact your paid a percentage which gets bigger and bigger the closer you get to 18. Though proper minimum wage doesn’t actually kick in till 21.
    This makes you a big draw for businesses because the less they have to pay you the more profits they have. It seems like a bad thing but actually no it’s not. It can be a real good opportunity to jump in and get some work experience under your belt, get references from employers and set yourself up for when you want to go for a much better job.

    However being under age it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re familiar with the laws covering you because being so young businesses can and will take advantage if they think they can get away with it.

  • There is no minimum legal age limit for starting work in NSW. You do need to be 14 and 9 months to do door-to-door sales work, however. That’s strangely specific. :/

  • There is no minimum legal age limit for starting work in NSW. You do need to be 14 and 9 months to do door-to-door sales work, however. That’s strangely specific. :/

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