G and K Pearse Pty Ltd, trading as Cold Rock Shepparton, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to four counts of employing children for more hours than permitted, six counts of employing children after 9pm and six counts of failing to provide after every three working hours, a rest break of at least 30 minutes.
The court found that the offenses were related to the employment of six children and occurred over a six-month period from April 17 to October 23 last year.
Child labor laws limit when companies can employ children and how long they can work.
Child employment regulations state that during school holidays children can be employed for a maximum of three hours a day and 12 hours a week, while during school holidays children can be employed for up to six hours a day and 30 hours a week.
Although the company was charged with four counts of employing children for more hours than permitted, the charges related to 44 instances of child labor during the school year.
Charge sheets show that the extra time children at Cold Rock Shepparton worked over their hourly allowance ranged from one hour to two and a half hours.
Child labor laws state that children can only work from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., unless they are engaged in street vending.
Cold Rock Shepparton’s six cases of child labor after 9pm involved 44 incidents.
Charge sheets show the children finished work at Cold Rock Shepparton between 9.40pm and 10.50pm.
By law, children must also be given a 30-minute rest break after every three hours of work.
Although Cold Rock Shepparton was charged with six counts of violating this law, this occurred on 20 separate occasions.
Charge sheets show that children worked between 35 minutes and one hour and 50 minutes longer than they should have, without taking a break.
The company was convicted and fined $4,500 for the violations.
Victoria’s Wages Inspectorate said the conviction is the second time the ice cream shop has been reprimanded for breaching child labor regulations, after receiving a formal caution for it in 2021.
Victoria’s Wages Inspectorate, the state’s child employment regulator, began an investigation into G & K Pearse Pty Ltd, trading as Cold Rock Shepparton, in October 2022 after receiving an anonymous tip alleging that a 13-year-old the child works late and: at one point he worked eight days in a row.
Victoria’s Inspectorate of Wages Commissioner Robert Hortle said children did not have the same mental and physical stamina as adults, so they couldn’t work the same hours and certainly shouldn’t work eight days in a row.
“It is disturbing that a company employing six children ignores child labor laws,” he said.
Most adults wouldn’t work for eight days in a row, let alone a child under 15.
With such simple rules and so much help available, there really is no excuse for not following them.
Cold Rock Shepparton is the type of company where many children find their first job, so it is important that they comply with the law and provide a safe environment.
Children do not have the experience, stamina or judgment of more experienced workers, so employers must consider their welfare.
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