Kids' Health
Visit website  
Home › Topics › Your Family > 

Kids who work

work; paid work; job; money; working; holiday work ;


What is work?

'Work' means anything that involves some effort to achieve what needs to be done. When people talk about working, they usually mean working for money. A lot of kids have asked about working for money, and this topic will try to answer some of those questions.

The kind of work that kids do

Lots of kids help out in family businesses like shops, cafes, market gardens and farms. Sometimes they work for money, and sometimes to help out the family.


Kids are usually paid for doing jobs like:

  • throwing newspapers (delivering them to people's homes)
  • putting advertising papers into letterboxes
  • door to door selling, eg sweets and biscuits
  • modelling
  • acting or dancing for film, television or theatre
  • workingbusking in shopping malls
  • baby sitting
  • gardening
  • car washing
  • dog-walking.

What the law says about kids working

In South Australia there are many laws and guidelines which are designed to keep workers safe, and laws that require the worker to do the job in a safe way. All of the laws for adults also apply for kids, and there are some extra ones for kids under the age of 16. (You will need to check what the law says in your state or country about kids working.)


1 No child (under 16) is allowed to work when they should be at school, or if the hours they work can stop them from doing their schoolwork - unless they get special permission from the Minister for Education. If a child is going to do some work that might interfere with schooling (eg. acting in a film, working on the farm at harvest time), then a special form has to be filled in. You can get the form at school.

2 In South Australia there is no minimum age at which a child can work, but children must not be involved in any work which could be dangerous or harmful to their physical, emotional or mental health. working

3 Children cannot work in any job that will harm their social or moral development. This means that every kid needs to have time to be a kid, spending time at school, with friends and family and learning to get along with each other. The moral part means that kids should not work where they feel unsafe or are involved with things like sex, drugs, gambling and alcohol.

working 4 Employers must make sure that all workers (especially children) have a safe workplace. Children under 18 are not allowed to work in dangerous jobs (eg. mines) or with dangerous materials (eg. LP gas).


All workers, including kids, have to work in a safe way. For example, if you are working with food, you have to follow your employer's instructions about washing your hands, and keeping all equipment used for the food clean, always. 

Keeping yourself safe

The laws about child employment are there to protect kids from being hurt in any way. They make the employer as responsible for child workers as a parent or caregiver would be.

Some things to be careful about

  • workingMake sure that you know what hours you will work and arrange to get to work, then get home again safely.

    Your parents, or caregivers, will probably want to know exactly what is going to happen, and if you are under 18 they have a legal responsibility to keep you safe. They are likely to feel happier about you working if they talk to your employer.
  • Before you start, make sure that you know exactly what you have to do and what training you will need, and whether you will be paid during the training time.
  • Make sure that you know what the rate of pay is.
  • workingIf you're in someone else's home (eg. babysitting), make sure that you know your employer's home telephone number and the number where you can contact them while they are out.
  • Make sure that it is OK to ring your own parents if you are worried, and have all the EMERGENCY numbers, such as  FIRE or  AMBULANCE (000 in Australia) by the phone.
  • Don't use any machinery without supervision and training. See our topic on 'Farm safety'.
  • Door-to-door selling or collecting could be dangerous, unless you have an adult with you. Not everyone is kind or can be trusted - you may even have your money stolen or be mugged!
  • If you are using your bike to do work, like delivering newspapers, then make sure that you wear your helmet and follow the road rules. See our topic 'Riding a bike' for more information
  • If someone is making you feel 'not safe', tell them and then tell your parents. It is better not to work at all than to work for someone like that.
  • Make sure that you have enough sleep so that you can keep up at school and aren't a grumpy creature with your friends and family!
  • Talk with your parents or caregivers about what you will do with the money you earn. If your family is going through tough times, you may be able to help out, and that's a good feeling. Otherwise you might save some for later, or save some for something that you would like that may be expensive. You may not want to save all the money you've earned for later - after all, if you've worked for it, you deserve a treat.
  • workingIf you are getting too tired, not keeping up with school work or are having problems at your work, then you need to talk it over with a trusted adult to see what can be done.

What some kids say about working for money

  • basket ball umpire"I help my dad who is a carpenter." Nick
  • "I work at Donut King, cleaning and advertising with a sandwich board. My sister works there too."
  • "I baby-sit for $5 an hour." Kate
  • "I used to deliver newspapers with my brother but it cost too much in petrol for mum to drive us round." Chloe
  • "I deliver pamphlets to letterboxes on weekends."
  • "Next year I'll be a paid basketball umpire because I will have finished my training." David
  • "I look after a neighbour's cat when they are away." Ben
  • "We deliver newspapers on our bikes." Tyaina and friends
  • "I help my grandad on his market stall on the weekend and he pays me." Matt
  • "I work so that I can help my mum afford what we need." Nick
  • "I feel good when I use money that I have worked for to buy something." Sylvie
  • I check out all the information on what I want to buy. I don't want to waste money that I have worked for." Josh

Dr Kim says

Dr Kim"Working for money can be a great experience. You learn how to work hard and stick at a job, you learn to be responsible and you learn to manage money. You also learn that you have to manage time well if you are to fit everything into your life.

You learn to make choices and you learn how to cooperate with others. You do not have to go somewhere else to work. If you want to save up for something and you get pocket money, you may be able to negotiate with your parents and get extra money for extra jobs.

Of course you would still do your regular chores. Everyone working together is what a family is all about."


If you are thinking about getting a part time job, then you and your family may like to look at this site to get more information.

Lawstuff: (South Australia)

 Did you know that country schools used to shut down at harvesting time, so that the students could help their families on the farms?

back to top

We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


Home › Topics › Your Family >