A major discount retailer is facing criminal charges for a raft of disturbing alleged child employment offences.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria is taking TK Maxx, the popular off-price retailer, to court on allegations it employed two children under the age of 15 without a permit on 12 occasions, failed to ensure children were supervised by someone with a working with children clearance, employed a child for more hours than they were permitted to work, employed a child later than 9pm and failed to provide children with a 30-minute rest break for every three hours worked.

The 33 charges pertain to the company’s Werribee store in outer southwestern Melbourne.

The maximum penalty for each offence is $18,429 if convicted and the matter will be heard at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on November 8, 2023.

The Inspectorate began investigating TK Maxx following a child employment compliance blitz over the summer school holidays that focused on retail businesses in shopping centres across Melbourne.

Officers inspected 169 businesses across eight shopping centres, including Chadstone, Southland, Eastland and Highpoint.

The Inspectorate forced 69 retail businesses to produce information about any workers under 15.

That led to four investigations and the identification of 29 suspected offences.

Three businesses received official warnings.

TK Maxx has been contacted for comment.

Victoria’s Child Employment Act mandates strict rules for businesses hiring kids.

During a school term, children can be employed for a maximum of three hours a day and 12 hours per week. During school holidays, children can be employed up to six hours a day and 30 hours a week.

Children can only work between 6am and 9pm and must receive a 30-minute rest break after every three hours of work.

Workers under the age of 15 must be supervised by someone who holds a valid Victorian working with children clearance.

Read related topics:Employment

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