Sometimes the question arises as to whether home educated students under 16 can be employed during certain hours.
Section 54 [i] of the Education and Training Act 2020 addresses this. It states in part:
54 Restrictions on employing school-age children
(1) An employer may not employ any person under the age of 16 years--
(c) if the person is enrolled at a distance school and the employment would interfere with the person’s ability to do the work of the course in which the student is enrolled; or
(d) if the person’s parent is granted an exemption certificate under section 38 and the employment would interfere with the person’s ability to be taught as well and regularly as in a registered school;
1) The law does not define “as regularly and well”- rather a parent who applies for a home education (Section 38) exemption provides the Ministry with an outline of their plan for their child’s education, and the Ministry grants the exemption on the basis that they “are satisfied that the child will be taught as regularly and well as in a registered school.”[ii]
2) Once exempt, the student’s ongoing education and program is the parent’s responsibility – they can make changes, incorporate new elements etc as they see fit. It is up to the parent to ensure that their child continues to be “taught as regularly and well…” and they can arrange their schedule in whatever way best achieves this. If the parent deems suitable employment to be part of their child’s learning program, that is up to them.
3) If the employment being considered is not part of the student’s learning program, but rather additional to it, then the parent should give consideration as to whether sufficient hours are left in the week outside of the employment for the student to complete their regular program of learning, but this is not required to be carried out within certain hours (eg “school hours”).
4) On employment websites, it may refer to students under 16 not being able to be employed during school hours etc – this applies to students who are NOT exempt (ie are required to attend a registered school per Section 36[iii]). Students which hold a home education exemption are exempt from this requirement, and so this restriction does not apply to them. The only restriction is as quoted above, that it does not “interfere with [their] ability to be taught as regularly and well…”
In summary, Section 54 of the Education and Training Act has specific wording for different situations, including students who are required to attend school, students enrolled in Correspondence (Te Kura), and students who hold home education exemptions. Home educated students cannot be employed to an extent that interferes with their ability to be taught as regularly and well, but hours are not defined and are up to the individuals involved to consider and work out. As the parent is the one responsible to see that the student is taught as regularly and well, and to oversee their program, only the parent can reasonably determine whether any such interference exists.
Any employer with further concerns is advised to seek independent legal advice.
[ii] Section 38 of the Education and Training Act 2020 See Education and Training Act 2020 No 38 (as at 01 December 2020), Public Act 38 Long-term exemptions from enrolment – New Zealand Legislation
[iii] Section 36 requires non-exempt students ages 6-16 to attend school: Education and Training Act 2020 No 38 (as at 01 December 2020), Public Act 36 Students of registered schools required to attend whenever schools are open – New Zealand Legislation