Is your child working within the Law?

Many of us will remember getting our first job (and first pay check!) but how many of us actually had a child employment permit or knew what we could and could not do whilst working?

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Many of us will remember getting our first job (and first pay check!) but how many of us actually had a child employment permit or knew what we could and could not do whilst working?

The original child employment legislation was part of the 1933 Children and Young Peoples Act and was updated in 1998. It is long overdue another update (read on to see why!) and the National Network for Children in Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE) is calling on Government to reform the legislation to reflect the 21st Century. You can comment on the petition here: https://chng.it/TmRJNjHByn

So, when and how can a child work?

The legislation states that no child under the age of 13 can be employed in any capacity. This includes paid or unpaid work or working with parents/relatives. 

Children are also not able to work before 7am or after 7pm on any day of the week.

There is a list of permitted employment which can be done by a 13 year old (though check with your own local authority as some will not issue an employer a permit if the child is not 14 years of age). 

Between the age of 13 and 14 children can be employed to do light work – this will be defined in each local authority area but may include:

  • Horticultural or agricultural work
  • Delivery of newspapers/magazines
  • Shop Work
  • Work in a hairdressing salon
  • Office Work
  • Car Washing – by hand in a residential setting
  • Cafe or restuarant work (but not in a working kitchen)
  • Working in a riding stables
  • Domestic work in a hotel or similar. 

Children aged 14 or over can be employed in any light work as long as it is not on the list of prohibited employment. Prohibited employment includes:

  • Working in commerial kitchens
  • Working in industrial premises e.g. factories or industrial sites
  • Working more than 3 metres above the ground or internally more than 3 metres above floor level.
  • Working in a cinema, theatre or club.
  • Working in a residential or nursing home
  • Delivering fuel oil or milk
  • Collecting or sorting refuse
  • Selling or delivering alcohol (except in a sealed container)
  • In telesales or door-to-door marketing/sales
  • In a slaughter house or butchers shop
  • In a fairground/amusement arcade.

There are also rules about how many hours a young person can work during the week and on weekends:

  •  Young people can work for up to 1 hour before school and up to 2 hours after school on a school day (but work must not exceed more than 2 hours in total on a school day).
  • On Sundays a young person must not work for more than 2 hours in total.
  • On Saturdays and on other days when the school is not open then the hours of work are determined by the age of the young person.
  • Young people aged 13 and 14 can work for a total of 5 hours but they must have a one hour break after three hours of continous work. 
  • Young people aged 15 and over can work for up to 8 hours but they must have a one hour break after four hours of continuous work.

There is no minimum wage requirement for a young person – therefore parents may want to be aware of what a young person is being paid and decide with them whether this is fair for the role they are being asked to carry out. 

Without a work permit it is unlikely that the employer is insured for the young person when they are working and this, therefore, places both the young person and the employer at risk. 

In addition, employers who have young people working for them without a relevant permit can be prosecuted for failure to comply with child employment legislation. This currently carries a penalty of a fine of up to £1000 or 6 months in prison. 

Further advice on child employment permits, permitted activities and hours of work can generally be found through Local Authority websites.

We also have a free online training course providing more information on juvenile employment available via our website.

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