Employers need to know the answer to the question what kinds of work can children do to avoid being challenged by the authorities.
The youngest age a child can work is 13, except children involved in areas such as television, theatre and modelling for which they will need a performance licence.
What kinds of work can children do on a full time basis?
Children can only start full-time work once they’ve reached the minimum school leaving age. In England this means they can leave school on the last Friday in June if they will be 16 by the end of the summer holidays. They must then do one of the following until they’re 18
- stay in full-time education, for example at a college
- start an apprenticeship or training
- spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training
Children under 16
School-age children are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage and do not pay National Insurance (unless they’re earning over their personal allowance).
Once someone reaches 16
Young workers aged 16 to 17 are entitled to age appropriate pay per hour.
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 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
There are several restrictions on where children are allowed to work. Children are not allowed to:
- Deliver milk
- Work in a commercial kitchen
- Sell or deliver alcohol, except in sealed containers
- Collect money or canvas door to door
- Be involved in the preparation of meat for sale
- Work in the bar of licensed premises
- Work in a factory
- Operate machinery
- Drive or ride on a vehicle, including agricultural implements
- Be involved in the personal care of residents in a care or nursing home
Babysitting is not considered employment. However, the Children’s Legal Centre and the NSPCC recommend that the minimum age of a babysitter should be 16 years of age.
There are also 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.
- 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
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.
There’s a lot to think about. If you need help understanding what kind of work can children do, give us a call on 01706 565332. We’re happy to help.
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