KFC fine for child work not enough: unions

A $30,000 fine imposed on Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) for illegally employing children to work later than 10pm at three of its Perth outlets is not enough, an affiliation of 40 unions says.

KFC was today fined in the Industrial Magistrates Court for rostering children aged under 15 on shifts after 10pm on 153 separate occasions at outlets in Ellenbrook, Rockingham and Forrestfield - including a 14-year-old finishing at 1.17am.

Under WA laws, children aged at least 13 years and less than 15 years may be employed between 6am and 10pm if it is outside of school hours and if their parents have provided written permission.

Of the 153 unlawful shifts, about a quarter finished after midnight, and 21 were on school nights.

The stores in question were three of four company-owned stores, while the remainder of KFC outlets in WA are owned by franchiser Competitive Foods Australia, which also has Hungry Jacks and Domino's Pizza units.

UnionsWA acting secretary Meredith Hammat said the fine was inadequate.

"This is dangerous exploitation," Ms Hammat said.

"There were 21 unlawful shifts worked on school nights. So child education was also compromised."

KFC said it has made changes to its roster processes and arranged retraining to ensure such incidents do not happen again.

It would ensure any employee under 15 could not be added to the payroll without parental permission and would update rostering software to prevent those staff from being rostered to work after 10pm.

"We deeply regret the lapses in our systems that allowed these rostering breaches to occur," the company said.

"We take full responsibility and accept that the penalties that have been imposed are appropriate in the circumstances."

KFC also offered its apologies to the employees concerned and their parents.

Ms Hammat said young people and parents should report cases of children being illegally employed.

"This case shows the importance of maintaining public services that monitor and respond to illegal work," she said.

Ms Hammat also called on WA Commerce Minister Simon O'Brien to promise that public sector staffing cutbacks would not affect the ability of the Department of Commerce to protect children from exploitation in the workplace.

A spokesman for Mr O'Brien said he urged all employers - particularly during the school holidays - to contact the Department's Wageline service on 1300 655 266 to ensure they understand their obligations when employing children and do not breach these laws.

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