Requirements for different aged children

Last update: 17 October 2023

A child is a performer who is under 15 years of age or a model who is under 16 years of age. There are some specific requirements for younger children and babies.

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    Hours of work and breaks

    Children can be employed for a restricted number of hours per day, during certain times of the day and for a limited number of days per week. Hours of work vary according to the age of the child and the type of work.

    Authorised employers are responsible for making sure the employed child’s hours of work meet these conditions.

    Children can only work one shift per day, whether it is for the same or a different employer. Performer representatives can request a variation for a child to work more than one shift with different employers, if the schedule is considered to be reasonable.

    A shift starts at call time, or when employment commences (for example, changing into costume or having hair and makeup done) whichever is earlier.

    A shift ends when the child is signed out of location.

    All breaks will be counted as work time except for the 1 hour mandatory break. 

    Entertainment and exhibition work hours

    This includes film, television, radio, shopping centre performances, still photography, the production of images for broadcasting, modelling, exhibitions and performance activities.

    Age of child Max days per week Hours during which child may be employed Max hours per day
    Under 6 months 1 day 6.00am - 6.00pm 4 hours
    6 months to under 3 years 2 days 6.00am - 6.00pm 4 hours
    3 years to under 8 years 4 days 6.00am - 11.00pm 6 hours
    8 years to under 15 years (or 16 years for models) 5 days 6:00am -11:00pm 8 hours

    Live performances

    This applies to live performances (including theatrical, musical and circus performances) other than a performance referred to in section 27 of the Code of Practice.

    Age of child Max hours per week Hours during which child may be employed Max hours per day
    Under 6 months 1 day 6.00am - 6.00pm 4 hours
    6 months to under 3 years 2 days 6.00am - 6.00pm 4 hours
    3 years to under 6 years 4 days 6.00am - 9.00pm 4 hours
    6 years to under 8 years 4 days 6.00am - 10.00pm 6 hours
    8 years to under 15 years 4 days 6.00am - 11.00pm 8 hours

    More information about hours of work

    Open all

    All employers need to make sure that:

    • a child works only one shift per day
    • a child does not start work less than 12 hours after previously finishing work
    • a child works for 4 hours or less on the same day as attending or receiving schooling
    • appropriate rest breaks are provided to children – see information below
    • a child does not work later than 9:00pm on a night before attending or receiving schooling
    • a child’s combined work and schooling hours during one week is 50 hours or less.
    Babies under 12 weeks

    Employing babies under 12 weeks of age requires specific permission. The employer must complete a variation application before commencing any work.

    Babies must be deemed suitable for employment by a registered nurse or registered midwife. They must be satisfied that the baby:

    • was delivered full term and in good health
    • had a birth weight 3 kilos or more
    • has not had any post natal problems
    • is feeding successfully
    • has satisfactory weight gain since birth.

    This information is gathered by the nurse and noted on the Nurse Report. This report must be sent to the Children's Guardian with the variation application 2 to 3 days before employment starts.

    Forms for variation and the nurse report template are available on our forms page for people employing children.

    The Children’s Guardian will inform employers of the outcome of their request.

    There are also special requirements for an employer when employing babies. These include:

    • nappy change facilities available
    • no contact with a person who has a respiratory or skin infection
    • no exposure to direct lighting
    • it's preferable not to have make up applied, but if necessary it must be sterile, non-toxic and hypoallergenic.
    • be handled by no more than 4 people (including their parent and registered nurse or midwife).
    Children under 3 years old

    If you employ a child under 3 years of age to work in entertainment, exhibition and still photography, you are required to have a registered nurse or registered midwife supervise their work alongside their parent or parent nominee or supervisor.

    The registered nurse or registered midwife is there to:

    • advise the employer of the child’s suitability for employment
    • advise the employer on the suitability of the environment in which the child will work, and whether or not it will cause the child to become distressed.

    The employer must, during the child's employment, follow the advice of the registered nurse or registered midwife in all matters that that relate to the welfare of the child.

    Rest breaks

    Children are required to have regular rest breaks during their work day. The minimum requirement for rest breaks is a one hour rest break every 4 hours.

    In addition, within any 4 hour period, employers are required to:

    • provide an appropriate number of breaks
    • make sure that the breaks are of an appropriate duration
    • take into account the needs of the child and the nature of the work the child is engaged in when providing breaks
    • comply with the maximum hours of work allowed. 


    What is a rest break?

    A rest break is when a child completely stops any work activity. If a child is working indoors, a child could go outdoors for fresh air. It might also mean having lunch or a snack, leaving the set or spending some quiet time in another room.
    Children should not travel to set, travel between locations, change costumes, rehearse or learn lines during a rest break.

    Rest breaks and maximum hours of employment

    Age of child Maximum hours of employment Rest break after 4 hours Total time on set/location (including rest break)
    Under 6 months to under 3 years 4 hours na 4 hours
    3 years to under 8 years 6 hours 1 hour 7 hours
    8 years to under 15 years (or 16 years for models) 8 hours 1 hour 9 hours

    The mandatory one hour rest break is not calculated as part of the maximum hours of employment. All other rest breaks are included in the maximum hours of employment.

    Tips for providing breaks

    We recommend a 10-minute rest break every hour for most children. Employers can provide more or less breaks during the day, taking into account the age and needs of the child and their work activity.

    Some suggestions for breaks:

    • plan children’s breaks when preparing the schedule
    • provide longer or more frequent breaks for children involved in high impact or high-risk activities such as dancing, outdoor sports, harnessing or rigging, emotional or distressing content
    • consult with the child and parent or supervisor about the number and duration of rest breaks
    • some children might feel embarrassed to ask for a toilet break, so think about when children are likely to need one and plan these into your schedule
    • always provide extra breaks if a child is showing signs of tiredness, frustration, anxiousness, hyperactivity, distress or if they ask to speak to their parent.


    Travel time

    When a child lives more than 90 minutes travel time from the place of employment, you are required to reduce the maximum amount of time the child can be employed.

    A child has up to 90 minutes to travel from home to the place of employment, and another 90 minutes to travel from the place of employment back home. Any time in excess of 90 minutes in either direction becomes part of the calculated employment time for that child, and reduces the maximum time the child can be employed.

    For example, if a child, who can be employed for up to 8 hours, takes 2 hours to travel to the place of employment, and 2 hours to travel home, the excess time of 30 minutes in each direction, 1 hour in total, becomes part of the employment time. In this case, due to the excess travel time, the child can only be employed for up to 7 hours at the place of employment.

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