Tag Archives: queensland

School aged young workers and employment – what do you know about it?

Young worker

A few months ago, our eldest daughter (who is 15) started her first paid job.  It was a bittersweet moment.  My bank account was grateful and thankful to the employer for providing her with a job.  But, my head and heart felt concerned and anxious about how our eldest baby will experience her first job.

Our eldest daughter has been tasked with 7 years of emptying the dishwasher as her one chore.  Now, this is paid work within the home so I expect (as any employer would) for the job to be done.  However, sure enough, I have had to remind her to unload said dishwasher nearly each and every one of those days …for 7 years.  Hence my concern regarding her entering the workforce.  As the relationship dynamics are different, would she perform well? What if she doesn’t? How will her employer deal with her? And my “inner protective lioness”  moment of how is she going to deal with rude customers?

Fast forward to now.  She commenced her employment with an employer who has an impressive training technique.  She felt comfortable enough with the trainer and manager to ask a lot of questions during her training.  She likes her job.  Her employer likes her work performance and I like and appreciate her employer’s style.  She has dealt with rude customers in a way in which I am super proud! On this occasion, it all worked out.

In contrast, I have heard about the other end of the spectrum with inadequate training, questionable verbal interactions and bullying of young workers. Employers must take reasonable steps to ensure that a child (a young worker) is not subject to deliberate or unnecessary social isolation or any behaviour likely to intimidate, threaten, frighten or humiliate them.  Apart from rupturing young workers confidence, this is a serious health and safety risk.

Employing young workers is beneficial to businesses as it significantly reduces wages.  However, this also means that an employer must understand and adapt to the special characteristics involved.  The special characteristics of young workers include, but are not limited to;

  • The size of the person and physical maturity;
  • Their general behaviours and maturity;
  • Their work experience and training;
  • Their confidence to raise problems with their supervisors;
  • Their ability to make mature judgements about their own safety and the safety of others;
  • Their ability to cope with unexpected and stressful situations; and
  • Special characteristics that mean young workers are more likely to be affected that adults in the same situation.

Each State and Territory have legislation dealing with child employment which supplements the Fair Work Act 2009. This article is dealing specifically with the Queensland Child Employment Act 2006, the Child Employment Regulation 2016 (commenced 1 September 2016) and school-aged workers.

The common misconception is that children must be 14 years and 9 months in which to seek and obtain employment.   Queensland legislation generally prohibits (unless approved) the employment of young workers younger than 13 years of age.  Prior to age 13 approved circumstances include: for entertainment employers, family business and some forms of supervised employment such as deliveries and charitable collections.

Hours of work

For those young workers who are still at school there are restrictions on hours that can be worked on a school day and non-school day:

  • During a school week, a school-aged child can work a maximum of 12 hours per week;
  • Work on a school day is a maximum of 4 hours only; and
  • On days that children are not required to attend a school they can work a maximum of 8 hours, but again this is capped for a 12 hour week during school weeks.

During a non-school week, a school-aged child can work a maximum of 38 hours.

Times of work

Restrictions are in place regarding the times for work:

  • School-aged and young children cannot work between 10pm and 6.00am.
  • Those children between the age of 11 and 13 years (that carry out delivery work) cannot work between 6pm and 6am.

Children working in a family business are not subject to these restrictions, however family businesses should be mindful of the power the Director-General of the Department of Justice and Attorney- General’s office has to issue a work limitation notice (where it is reasonably believed that the work may interfere with a child’s schooling or be harmful to their safety, health, physical, mental or social development).

Business Owners

Business owners who should already be familiar with our Federal workplace laws should also review the Child Employment Act 2006, Child Employment Regulation 2016, the Child Employment Guide and Children and Young Workers Code of Practice 2006.

There is a number of published materials available online to assist employers, however, these should be tailored specifically to the workplace and the young workers employed.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has published the “Best Practice Guide – An employer’s guide to employing young workers.” Located here.

Queensland Work Health and Safety has published guidance material.  Located here.  In addition to a “Young Worker Safety Toolkit” located here.

Practical tips for working with young workers include: invite interactions, set short terms goals, tailor training to cultural, literacy and learning needs, provide a thorough induction and continued supervision, check for understanding and provide positive affirmations on their work progress.  If you are particularly keen, try reverse mentoring! Many young workers are highly skilled in tech and social media skills which may be beneficial to your business.

Parents/Guardian

Your school-aged or young child worker will need you to complete a parents/guardian consent form.   A parent/guardian must ensure:

  • they are present if it is their baby that is employed;
  • they provide a parent’s consent form to the employer before employment can occur;
  • they inform the employer if their child’s school hours change by submitting a parent’s consent form within 14 days of the hours changing.

Parents and guardians should familiarise themselves with the law surrounding young workers employment to ensure that both their child’s rights and obligations are being met.

The Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General has published a “Child Employment Guide” located here.  By law, this guide is required to be displayed conspicuously in a child’s (young workers) workplace where it can be easily accessed by the child to read (by the employer).

The Fair Work Ombudsman has published a “Best Practice Guide – A Guide for young workers” located here.

The Regulations also provide for circumstances when your child is ill, parent/child communication during working hours and employers requirement to provide notice.

Young entertainment workers rights and obligations are not covered in this article.  This article provides very brief general information and does not cover all aspects of young workers in employment.  This article was written in 2016 qnd the law may have changed since then. Should you have a legal question or situation you should engage the services of a lawyer to provide you with advice on the law specific to your circumstances.

Keep left unless overtaking at all times. Apparently not!

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I grew up in Victoria and from a very young age I was taught as a pedestrian to keep left when going up and down stairs/escalators and generally when walking on the footpath (unless overtaking).   For many years as a child I just assumed this was a law, in any event it was just how things were done where I grew up in Victoria.   It seemed logical, pedestrian traffic flowed, it just worked!

Naturally when I got my driver’s license in the 1990’s this was one of the main things that stuck with me.  Keep left unless overtaking.  Simple, I could easily transfer my pedestrian life rules to my driving career.   It is now so highly ingrained into me, that until now when I have actively thought about it, I have realised how wrong it feels to just drive along in the right lane and how I always keep to the left.  I have also realised that still to this day I naturally keep to the left in stairs, escalators, supermarket aisles and footpath’s and that a lot of people around me don’t.

I have lived as far north as Palm Cove and as far south as Gordonvale.  One thing I have noticed when driving in and out of town is the failure of people to keep left unless overtaking.  However, the highway north of Cairns involves a lot of roundabouts and turn off’s which understandably can pose difficulty for keeping left.  South side in my experience flows a lot smoother and there is more room to move.  However, as much as south side flows, this is highly dependent upon your time of travel, if you are travelling in peak hour that flow can quickly become a mess. It’s at this point, when the traffic is a mess where I start talking to myself about the lack of motor skills my fellow drivers have.  While I know it is not always possible to keep left, despite your best intentions,  I nevertheless take this time to have an internal dialogue with myself trying to work out why someone is travelling 60km an hour in the right hand lane of an 80km an hour roadway.  My mind boggles,  Are they doing this on purpose?, why would they do that? and how did they even get their licence in the first place?

I wanted to write this article about the road rules and how the law states that you need to keep left unless overtaking in order to get the word out and help the north and south bound traffic flow better (I know, #biggoals).  My vision was this article would go viral, all motorist would start keeping to the left unless overtaking, traffic as a result would just flow and all would be well in the world.  However, as a result of reviewing the Queensland Legislation, I am now deeply embarrassed about my internal judgy conversations with myself as it appears that my driving style (which I thought was a road rule for the last 18 years) of “keep left unless overtaking” is only applicable in certain circumstances.

In brief, the Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009  (Qld) states that when you drive on a multi-lane road where the speed limit is more than 80km/h (90km+), you must not travel in the far right lane (fines apply) unless you are:

  • overtaking
  • turning right
  • making a U-turn
  • avoiding an obstacle
  • entitled to drive in that lane because of an official traffic sign
  • driving in congested traffic.

In any event, if there is a sign saying “keep left unless overtaking” you must comply with the sign.

This means that, for years I have been incorrectly judging drivers in the 80km and below range for their driving skills as they were within their legal rights to be in that right lane or that far right lane despite the fact they were not overtaking (sorry!).  However, I take comfort in the fact that the few people I have told about this article were also of the same opinion as me, that the road rules are to keep left unless overtaking at all times.

Lesson to be learned.  Road rules should be reviewed periodically to keep up to date.  The current QLD road rules can be located here.

On a side note, I would be interested to hear if anyone could shed any light on their understanding of footpath and supermarket isle etiquette in FNQ? lefty/righty? Or centre?

 

What if Taylor Swift and Kanye West lived in Queensland. Could they legally record their conversation?

Telephone conversations and recording devices

These days I often hear and see on social media discussions regarding the recording of conversations.  More recently the alleged telephone conversation between Kanye West and Taylor Swift went viral. The first thing I thought of when I heard about this was, really? that’s the news? this was quickly followed by, “you can’t do that in Queensland.”

The federal legislation provides that it is illegal to record a telephone call with a device physically attached to the phone (mobile or landline) except where authorised  in specific circumstances (generally these are related to warrants etc).  (Telecommunications (interception) Act 1979 (Cth)).

Queensland law is not as strict as some of the other states and territories when it comes to the recording of other conversations.  In brief, Queensland law states;

  • You can legally record a telephone conversation with an external device provided you are a person who is a party to the conversation;
  • You can legally record a face to face conversation if you are a party to the conversation;
  • It is illegal to record a conversation (whether by telephone or face to face) if you are not a party to that conversation.  (Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 (Qld))

However, if you are recording conversations, with a view to use them as evidence, then you should obtain legal advice as the law differs on the admissibility of recordings in the different types of legal actions.  If you do lawfully record a conversation then you should also be aware that the publication or communication of that private conversation is prohibited in all jurisdictions.

So, if this alleged incident involving Kanye and Taylor occurred in Queensland;

  • The device recording the alleged conversation could not be attached to a phone being used by Kanye or Taylor;
  • The device recording the alleged conversation must have been recorded by either Kanye or Taylor not a third person (this si because only Kanye and Taylor are a “party” to the conversation) ; and
  • Both Kanye and Taylor would be prohibited from publication or communication of the recording (i.e they cannot release the recording  to the media (or anyone else)).

However, before you run off and start recording conversations you are a part of, you should consider the purpose of a recording and if you legally can record the conversation.  If it is for evidence, then you should seek legal advice about your circumstances for seeking the recording, the manner of the recording, the admissibility of the recording and the impact (good or bad) the recording could have on your case, as despite contrary belief, not all recordings are looked upon favourably by a Court.

For further general information relating to current laws about recording telephone conversations, see the Australian Information Commission https://www.oaic.gov.au/about-us/ and the Queensland Information Commissioner  https://www.oic.qld.gov.au/

Please also remember that these articles are providing brief general information and should not be construed as legal advice.  Should you have a legal question or situation you should engage the services of a lawyer to provide you with advice on the current law specific to your circumstances.