Child employment

Young people of compulsory school age often like to supplement their pocket money by taking on a part-time job, such as delivering newspapers or working in a shop at weekends. However there are local rules and regulations to be observed regarding the employment of pupils.

Employment Certificate (Work Permit)

The law specifies the hours which children of compulsory school age can work and prohibits their employment in a wide range of occupations.

Every child in employment must be in possession of an Employment Certificate (Work Permit). An application form is available to download:

Please return completed forms to your local Child Employment and Entertainment service.

Further details of bye laws concerning child employment is available below: Employment Regulations.

Common questions

If you are a school pupil, the information on this page should answer most of the questions you have about doing a part-time job.

Q
What is work?
Answer

This might seem obvious, but basically a pupil is employed if he / she assists in any trade or occupation carried out for profit. It does not matter whether the pupil is paid or not for the work done, and it makes no difference if the pupil is assisting his/her own parents in their business, working for a relative, or working for a major company.

Q
How old must I be to work part time?
Answer

You have to be 13 years old to be able to work part time.

Q
I am over 13 and have been offered a job, what do I need to do?
Answer

In order to comply with the law there are things that you should do. There are also things which your parents and employer are obliged to do.

If you wish to work you should obtain a permit. You can download an PDFEmployment of children application form [PDF 121KB], or get one from school or from the local area Child Employment and Entertainment Service.

If the proposed employment is authorised you will be given an Employment Certificate.

Occasionally, there may be need for proof of medical fitness which can be obtained from your GP.

Please remember that you must register for employment in order to comply with the law. Employment which is not registered is illegal.

Q
Are there any jobs I can't do?
Answer

The law states there are jobs you cannot do:

  • you cannot operate machinery or work with hazardous materials;
  • deliver milk;
  • work in a commercial kitchen or factory.

This is not a complete list. For full details see employment regulations or contact the local Child Employment and Entertainment Service.

Q
What hours can I work?
Answer

This depends on your age. You cannot work before 7.00 in the morning or after 7.00 in the evening if you are of compulsory school age. For full details see employment regulations or contact the local Child Employment and Entertainment Service.

Q
Can I be stopped from working?
Answer

Yes

  • if your school attendance suffers
  • if you are continually late for school
  • if your school work suffers
  • if your health suffers
  • if your employment contravenes the Byelaws.
Q
I've received a national insurance card, when can I start work full time?
Answer

Sample National Insurance number: NW 65 67 74 S

A child is of compulsory school age until the date they are officially allowed to leave school not on their 16th birthday or when they receive their National Insurance number. The law has fixed the school leaving date as the last Friday in June for all children.

Q
How much should I get paid?
Answer

The rate of pay is decided by your employer. You may want to talk to your parents about this.

Q
What happens if I appear on stage or television?
Answer

There are separate regulations for children who are involved in the field of entertainment. For more information see Entertainment licences or contact the local Child Employment and Entertainment Service.

Q
Where can I get more information?
Answer

Please contact your local Education Welfare office or visit  GOV.UK: Child Employment

Employment Regulations summary

A child of school age is not allowed to work more than 12 hours per week during term time.

Important things to remember

The employer is responsible for health, safety and welfare when you are at work and must provide protective clothing where necessary.

The details given here are the general rules of child employment. You can get more information from the Child Employment and Entertainment service.

Summary of maximum times that children are allowed to work by age
When How Long (maximum)
If you are aged 13 or 14
On a school day 2 hours a day, outside school hours
Saturdays 5 hours
School holidays 5 hours per day, up to a maximum of 25 hours per week
If you are aged 15 or 16
On a school day 2 hours a day, outside school hours
Saturdays 8 hours per day, up to a maximum of 35 hours per week
All ages up to 16
Sundays 2 hours

Employment Regulations

Prohibited employment

No child under the age of thirteen can be employed.

No child of any age may be employed:

  • in a cinema, theatre, discotheque, dance hall or night club, except in connection with a performance given entirely by children;
  • to sell or deliver alcohol;
  • to deliver milk;
  • in the delivery or sale of fuel oils;
  • in a commercial kitchen;
  • to collect or sort refuse;
  • in any work which is more than three metres above ground level or, in the case of internal work, more than three metres above floor level;
  • in employment involving harmful exposure to physical, biological or chemical agents;
  • to collect money or sell or canvass door to door;
  • in work involving exposure to adult material or in situations which are for this reason otherwise unsuitable for children;
  • in telephone sales;
  • in any slaughterhouse or in that part of any butcher's shop or other premises connected with the killing of livestock, butchery, or the preparation of carcasses or meat for sale.
  • as an attendant in a fairground or amusement arcade or in any other premises used for the purpose of public amusement by means of automatic machines, games of chance or skill or similar devices;
  • in the personal care of residents of any residential care home or nursing home;
  • in or in connection with any racing course or track or other place where any like sport is carried on or as an assistant in any business conducted therein.

Permitted employment of children aged 13

A child aged thirteen may not be employed except in light work in one or more of the following specified categories:

  • agricultural or horticultural work;
  • delivery of newspapers, journals and other printed material;
  • shop work, including shelf stacking;
  • hairdressing salons provided that the child does not work with or come into contact with any harmful chemical agents;
  • office work;
  • car washing by hand in a private residential setting;
  • in a cafe or restaurant;
  • in riding stables; and
  • domestic work in hotels and other establishments offering accommodation.

Permitted employment of children aged 14 and over

A child aged 14 or over may be employed only in light work.

Restrictions on hours

Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and the Children (Protection at Work) (No 2) Regulations 2000

  1. On a school day no child shall be employed for more than two hours. A child may work either for one hour between 7.00 am and 8.00 am and one hour after school or two hours between close of school and 7.00 pm. During term time no child can work more than 12 hours per week.
  2. On Saturdays and non-school weekdays no child under the age of 15 years may be employed for more than five hours (at 15 years no more than eight hours) and not before 7.00 am or after 7.00 pm.
  3. In the holidays no child under the age of 15 shall be employed for more than 25 hours a week (at 15 years no more than 35 hours) and not before 7.00 am or after 7.00 pm.
  4. On Sundays no child shall be employed for more than two hours and not before 7.00 am or after 7.00 pm.
  5. A child must not work for more than four hours in any day without a rest break of one hour.
  6. A child must have at least two consecutive weeks without employment during the school holidays.

Definition of terms

  1. 'Child' means a person who is not yet over compulsory school age as defined in Section 8 of the Education Act 1996.
  2. 'Employment' includes assistance in any trade or occupation which is carried on for profit, whether or not payment is received for that assistance.
  3. 'Light work' means work which, on account of the inherent nature of the tasks which it involves and the particular conditions under which they are performed:
    1. is not likely to be harmful to the safety, health or development of children; and
    2. is not such as to be harmful to their attendance at school, their participation in work experience in accordance with Section 560 of the Education Act 1996, or their capacity to benefit from the instruction received or, as the case may be, the experience gained.

Stage, television and radio productions

Anything contained within the local byelaws and current legislation does not prevent a child from taking part in a stage, television or other such performance under the provisions of a licence granted in accordance with the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 and the associated Regulations. Application forms and advice in respect of a performance may be obtained from your local Education Welfare office - see Child performance and entertainment licences

An employer and any person (other than the child) who employs or knowingly allows a child to be employed in contravention of any enactments or local authority byelaws may be liable to prosecution.