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NSW Industrial Relations
Making NSW Workplaces Fair For All

New to Work FAQ

Find below the common questions regarding joining the workforce for the first time.

How old must I be to start work?

There is no minimum legal age limit for starting work in NSW. Many teenagers start a part-time or casual job while still at school. However you may wish to contact the following organisations for any other restrictions that may apply relating to age.

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman regulates employment matters. The Ombudsman’s office may be contacted directly on 13 13 94 or visit their website.

SafeWork NSW

Safework NSW is the agency responsible for occupational health and safety, workers compensation and certificates for operators of industrial equipment. They may be contacted on 131 050, or visit their website.

NSW Department of Education

If consideration is being given to working at any time other than school holidays, you should check with the NSW Department of Education for restrictions that may apply to a student’s age and their education. They may be contacted on 1300 679 332, or visit their website.

If you are under the age of 17 and wishing to seek full-time work with the intention of leaving school, you should talk to the Career Adviser at your school to find out how you can apply to leave school.

Is unpaid trial work illegal?

There is no such thing as 'unpaid trial work'. It is illegal for your employer not to pay you for any work that you do, even if it is only for a small number of hours (see minimum engagement above).

If this happens to you, contact Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 for advice and assistance.

I am being bullied at work, what can I do?

Bullying is unwanted, offensive and frightening behaviour and can come from co-workers, supervisors or customers.

Bullying frequently consists of a series of acts or incidents which, in isolation, appear trivial but, put together, can be devastating. A bully can deny that bullying is occurring when single incidents are involved but cannot do so when there is a series of incidents.

Bullying can involve:

  • yelling or abusive language
  • laughs or insults because of your lack of experience, appearance, race, religion or sexual preference
  • physical abuse – people pushing, poking, hitting or threatening to hurt you.

If you feel bullied:

  • tell the person to stop
  • keep a diary of events – this will support your allegations of bullying by providing you with clear recall of all the details
  • tell your employer, your human resources manager or occupational health and safety representative.

Bullying is against the law. 

For anyone under 18 years of age it may also be considered child abuse. If you feel this is happening to you, you can get advice on your particular situation from the NSW Commission for Children and Young People on (02) 9286 7276.

For any worker being bullied or for more information, contact WorkCover on 13 10 50.

I am being discriminated against at work, what can I do?

If you experience discrimination or have concerns please contact the Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB) 1800 670 812 for advice and assistance.