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Children in the Workplace Policy

Version 1.0 Updated 1 Apr 2020
Policy Manage

Who can use this policy?

This policy can be used by all employers.

Commentary

This document will assist employers in creating a policy about the presence of children in the workplace. The policy covers the bringing of employees' children into the workplace, but not the employment of children.

Employees may sometimes ask to bring their children to work, in order to enable them to balance their work and family responsibilities. Before allowing such a request, there are some very important factors employers that should consider. These include that:

  •     the employer is required under work health and safety laws to provide a safe work environment, so far as is reasonably practiable for all workers and persons at the workplace. This extends to ensuring there is not an unnecessary risk of exposure to infectious diseases or other hazards in the workplace to its workers, or visitors at the workplace. There is also a responsibility to ensure the safety of others who come into the workplace, including children.
  •     there are some workplaces where it is never safe to bring children. Consider whether your workplace is such a workplace before allowing any children on site.
  •     an employer may also be required by public health legislation to ensure that there is no risk of contamination of products through exposure to disease or injury, depending on the circumstances of their enterprise.
  •     the employer’s insurance will need to cover the presence of a child on site.
  •     an employer may not have the resources to provide childcare on site.
  •     the work of the employee and others in the workplace may be inhibited by the presence of the child.


Conversely, a written request from an eligible employee to allow children onsite may constitute a request for flexible working arrangements, to which particular responses from a national system employer are now required under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Fair Work Act).

To be eligible to make this written request, employees (other than a casual) must have at least 12 months' continuous service at the time they make the request. Casuals must, at the time of making the request, be a long term casual (i.e. they have been engaged on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months) and have a reasonable expectation of continuing employment with the employer on a regular and systematic basis.

Additionally, to request a flexible work arrangement, employees must fall into one of the following categories:

  •     the employee is 55 years of age or older;
  •     the employee has a disability;
  •     the employee is a carer (within the meaning of the Carer Recognition Act 2010 (Cth));
  •     the employee is the parent of, or has the responsibility of caring for, a child who is of school age or younger;
  •     the employee is experiencing violence from a member of the employee’s family; and
  •     the employee provides care or support to a member of the employee’s immediate family, or a member of the employee’s household, who requires care or support because the member is experiencing violence from the member’s family.


The employer is then required to respond in writing to the employee within 21 days stating whether the employer grants or refuses the request (written response may follow an oral response). A request may only be refused on 'reasonable business grounds'. If the request is refused, the employer must include details of the reasons for the refusal and should address, if possible, the criteria set out in 65(5A) of the Fair Work Act along with any other relevant consideration.
Employers with employees in Victoria

In Victoria, in addition to the requirements under the Fair Work Act, an employer must not ‘unreasonably’ refuse to accommodate parental/carer’s responsibilities in relation to work arrangements of an employee, a person offered employment, a contractor, a partner to the business or a person invited to become a partner in a partnership comprising of five or more partners.

This policy should be supplemented by a policy on taking carer’s leave in order to care for sick children.

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