Restrictions on child employment

As the summer holidays progress and employers feel the pinch of labour post-Brexit labour restrictions, more are employing younger staff for seasonal work. It is important to note that there are several restrictions on when and where children are allowed to work.

The youngest age a child can work part-time is 13. Children can only start full-time work once they’ve reached the minimum school leaving age. In England, their 16th birthday has to fall by the end of the summer holidays and in Scotland, you can employ someone whose 16th birthday falls before 30 September this year.  When they have reached the school leaving age they can work up to 40 hours per week. 

It is worth noting that young people below the age of 18 are not allowed to work in places like a factory or industrial site.  They must not be contracted before 7am or after 7pm and cannot work for more than 4 hours without taking a break of at least 1 hour. This is likely to mean that you will have to adjust your meal break policy to accommodate young people. 

During school holidays 13 to 14-year-olds are only allowed to work a maximum of 25 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 5 hours on weekdays and Saturdays
  • a maximum of 2 hours on Sunday

During school holidays 15 to 16-year-olds can only work a maximum of 35 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 8 hours on weekdays and Saturdays
  • a maximum of 2 hours on Sunday

During term time children can only work a maximum of 12 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 2 hours on school days and Sundays
  • a maximum of 5 hours on Saturdays for 13 to 14-year-olds, or 8 hours for 15 to 16-year-olds

Employers are governed by local bylaws in respect of employing children. If you wish to employ a child aged under 16, your local Council may have to provide you with a licence to do this. In addition individual councils will provide a list of the jobs that children cannot do. If a job is on this list, a child under the minimum school leaving age cannot do this work. These local bylaws may also have other restrictions on working hours, conditions of work and the type of employment. Information relating to your specific local council will be on its website, under Education Department or Education Welfare Service. 

 

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