Home educated students often desire to engage in part time employment to gain work and/or life experience. This can be an excellent opportunity to extend their learning, enable them to try out a job of interest to see if that is what they would like to pursue long term, and to gain various skills. Sometimes the question arises as to whether home educated students under 16yrs can be employed during certain hours. Section 30 of the Education Act 1989 (Employment of school-age children) addresses this. It states that a child who has been granted a certificate of exemption from the Ministry of Education may not undertake employment “when the employment interferes with the person’s ability to be taught as well and regularly as in a registered school”.

The law does not define “as well and regularly as” – rather the parent/caregiver who applies for a home education 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”. Once exempt, the student’s ongoing education and program is the responsibility of the parent/caregiver. They can make changes and incorporate new elements as they see fit. It is up to the parent/caregiver to ensure that their child continues to be “taught as regularly and as well as” 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. If the employment being considered is not part of the student’s learning program, but rather additional to it, then consideration should be given to whether sufficient hours are left in the week outside of the employment for the student to complete their regular programme of learning. Keep in mind that a home educated child’s learning programme is not required to be carried out within certain hours (eg. “school hours”).

On employment websites it may refer to students under 16yrs not being permitted to be employed during school hours. This applies to students who are not exempt (ie, are required to attend a registered school as per the Education Act). Students who 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 “the person’s ability to be taught as well and regularly as”.

In summary, Section 30 of the Education Act has specific wording for different situations, including students who are required to attend school, students enrolled in Te Kura, and students who have an exemption to be home educated. Home educated students cannot be employed to the extent that the employment interferes with their ability to be taught as regularly and as well as in a registered school, but hours are not defined and are up to the individuals involved to consider and work out.