Employing Young People

Posted: Friday, 19 March 2010 @ 09:25

Whether you employ young people for paper rounds, to help out in a local shop or restaurant or offer them work during school holidays there are some restrictions to be aware of and rules to be followed if you employ anyone under the age of 18.

So what is the law for England and Wales?

Limits on work for under 14s

Children under 14 are not allowed to work at all except in very limited circumstances involving child actors, advertising and sport, and only then with strict conditions. However they can babysit or do odd jobs for a parent, relative or neighbour. Many local authorities (subject to a permit) allow children who are 13 to do a paper round or other light work not likely to be a health risk or harm their development. It is worth checking the local by-laws and obviosuly you need the permit in place before you take any younster on. 

By-laws for those under school leaving age

For children aged 14 and under school leaving age (ends on the last Friday of June in the school year in which they are 16) the local authority by-laws apply, and these may vary between authorities. You need to check with your local authority. In any event a permit will be required from your local authority which will have to be signed by the employer and a parent.

Otherwise the legal requirement is that children aged 14 or above until the last Friday of June in the year they are 16, can only do light work and are not allowed to work in a mine, in transport, on a merchant ship, or in construction or factory work. They are also subject to limits on the hours they can work. They must not work:-

1. before 7am and after 7pm
2. during school hours on a school day
3. for more than 2 hours on a Sunday
4. for more than 2 hours on a school day
5. for more than 12 hours in a school week
6. for more than 8 hours ( 5 hours for 14 year olds) on a non school day
7. for more than 35 hours (25 for 14 year olds) in non school weeks
8. for more than 4 hours without a break of one hour

And the children must have at least 2 uninterrupted weeks of holiday from school in any calendar year.

So you will see that it will be very difficult to employ under 16s for more than a few hours a day except on a Saturday or school holiday.

Limits for those who have reached school leaving age

For children between school leaving age and their 18th birthday the following limts apply:

  • A maximum of 8 hours a day 
  • A maximum of 40 hours per week 
  • A 12 hour rest break between each working day 
  • A minimum of 2 rest days per working week 
  • A minimum 30 minute rest break after 4 ½ hours 
  • No work between 10pm and 6 am subject to some exceptions and relaxation for work in hospitals, newspaper rounds, bakeries, sports, retail, and a few other areas of employment

Other Rules

It is also important to note that the National Minimum wage applies to those aged 16 or over, and if you are employing anyone under 18 you need to do a Health and Safety risk assessment before taking them on.

For free advice on this topic please call us on 0845 003 5639.

Blog by Gary Pascual
Gary has been providing legal advice to shareholders, directors and business owners for over 25 years. Specialising in dispute resolution Gary is based in Birmingham with clients throughout the UK and overseas. View profile
Call Gary on +44 (0)121 778 3212 or by email
This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.


  • There are no comments for this page - click here to be the first

Need legal advice for your business? We can help


Practical advice and legal support for company owners and directors.


In dispute with a customer or supplier? Get practical advice and support.

Your legal advisor

Your legal advisor
Board level legal advice without the costs of an in-house lawyer.

Speak to a lawyer

Speak to a lawyer
Thank you. Your response is great, very straight to the point! Hopefully this will bring an end to the matter. I will certainly be recommending your services as I am very impressed with the prompt dealing of this matter.
Janet Burbidge

Get legal updates

Enter your email address to receive our monthly Blog Newsletter

We will keep your email safe in accordance with our privacy policy.

Get the FREE definitive guide to solving business disputes

Posts by author

Speak to a lawyer

Get legal updates

Enter your email address to receive our monthly Blog Newsletter
The Law Society