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Is Your Child Looking to Start Work or Are You Looking to Employ a Young Adult?

Child Employment Laws UK

Know your rights and obligations with this set by step guide..

  1. Minimum ages children can work:

Part-time work

The youngest age a child can work part-time is 13, except children involved in areas like:

  • television
  • theatre
  • modelling

Children working in these areas will need a performance licence.

Full-time work

Children can only start full-time work once they’ve reached the minimum school leaving age – they can then work up to a maximum of 40 hours a week.


In England, a young person must be in part-time education or training until they’re 18.

2. Paying children and young people

Children under 16:

School-aged children are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

Children under 16 do not pay National Insurance, so you only need to include them on your payroll if their total income is over their Personal Allowance.

Once someone reaches 16:

Young workers aged 16 to 17 are entitled to at least £4.35 per hour.

If you’re a registered employer, you’ll need to record and report their pay as part of running payroll. If they earn more than £118 a week, you’ll also need to do other regular PAYE tasks like making deductions.

Before their next payday, collect information from them for PAYE. If they started work for you in the previous tax year, put their start date as 5 April in your payroll software. Record their pay for the current tax year only.

If you pay any employee over £118 a week you must be registered as an employer and operate PAYE.

3. Performance licences and supervision for children

A child may need a licence if they’re under school leaving age and taking part in:

  • films, plays, concerts or other public performances that the audience pays to see, or that take place on licensed premises
  • any sporting events or modelling assignments where the child is paid

The person in charge of running the event must apply to the child’s local council for a child performance licence. Ask the council if you’re not sure you need one.

4. Supervision for the child

If the child will not be with their parent, school teacher or home tutor, they must be supervised by a chaperone approved by the council. Chaperones can apply for approval from the council.

The normal rules for paying children and restrictions on employment apply to children in performances.

5. Restrictions on child employment

There are several restrictions on when and where children are allowed to work.

Children are not allowed to work:

  • without an employment permit issued by the education department of the local council, if this is required by local bylaws
  • in places like a factory or industrial site
  • during school hours
  • before 7am or after 7pm
  • for more than one hour before school (unless local bylaws allow it)
  • for more than 4 hours without taking a break of at least 1 hour
  • in most jobs in pubs and betting shops and those prohibited in local bylaws
  • in any work that may be harmful to their health, well-being or education
  • without having a 2-week break from any work during the school holidays in each calendar year

6. Special rules which only apply during term times and school holiday times.

Term time rules

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

School holiday rules

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

7. Local rules on the types of work children can do

Local bylaws list 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.

Local bylaws may also have other restrictions on working hours, conditions of work and the type of employment.

Contact your local council’s education department or education welfare service for more information.

8. Local council rules for child employment permits

Most local councils say that businesses intending to employ school-aged children must apply for a child employment permit before they can be employed.

If a child is working without a child employment permit, there’s a risk that the employer will not be insured against accidents involving the child.

Children do not need a work permit for work experience arranged by their school.

Employers should contact their local council’s education department or education welfare service to find out if a child employment permit is needed.


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