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Child employment

A young person is considered to be employed if they work in any business that operates for profit, whether they are paid or not.

Young people from 13 to compulsory school leaving age (end of Year 11) are allowed to work part-time. 

No young person under 13 may be employed.  It is illegal for anyone including parents/carers, to employ a young person under this age in any capacity.

If you want to employ a young person of school age you must apply for a work permit within 7 days of them starting work.

There are limits to the times and days that a young person may do.  Working hours will vary depending on age and whether the employment is during term time or school holidays.  No young person is allowed to work before 7am or after 7pm. 

The table below details when work is allowed
All days No work before 7.00am or after 7.00pm
School term time
  • No work during school hours
  • No more than 2 hours work per day (up to 1 hour before school)
  • Maximum of 12 hours in any one week during term time
School holidays
  • No more than 5 hours work per day if child is under 15
  • No more than 25 hours per week if child is under 15
  • No more than 8 hours work per day if child is15 or over
  • No more than 35 hours per week if child is 15 or over
  • No more than 5 hours work per day if child is under 15
  • No more than 8 hours work per day if child is 15 or over
  • No more than 2 hours work per day regardless of age
Rest breaks / holiday
  • No more than 4 hours work without a rest break of at least one hour.
  • At least 2 weeks holiday per year, which must be work and school free.

Young people over 16

National insurance numbers are issued to all young people prior to their 16th Birthday. However, until they have completed their final year of compulsory education (Year 11) they still need a work permit and the same regulations apply as other young people.

Jobs that a young person is not allowed to do:

There are various environments that a child may not work in. These include:

  • Cinema, Club or Theatre
  • Factory
  • Delivering Milk
  • Cooking
  • Window Cleaning
  • Collecting Money
  • Door to Door Sales
  • Telephone Sales
  • Butchers Shop
  • Fairground or Amusement Arcade
  • In the personal care in any residential care home or nursing home
  • Petrol Station
  • Picking up litter

What parents should do:

If your child has a job you must ensure that:

  • You know where your child is working
  • Their duties and hours of work are allowed
  • They get a work permit

What employers should do:

If you employ a young person you are required to:

  • Apply for a work permit within 7 days of the start of the young person’s employment
  • Undertake a risk assessment
  • Notify the young person’s parent of any risks associated with the work
  • Ensure that the appropriate insurance cover is in place

NB Applications should be made to the Local Authority area where the employment is taking place, not the Local Authority where the young person lives.

Apply for a permit

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