Young People in the Workplace - Your Questions

Last reviewed on 21/11/2012 12:09

The Adviceline has received a number of enquiries recently from businesses considering employing young people of school age. The following are a selection of the questions we’ve been asked and the answers we’ve given. This can be a bit of a minefield for employers because, as well as the general guidance relating to employment of children, local authorities often have bylaws for employing children of school age.

In relation to employment what is the difference between a child and a young person?

  • A child is one who is ‘compulsory school age’. NOTE: In Scotland, if their 16th birthday falls on or between 1 March and 30 September, he or she may leave school on 31 May of the same year. If the birthday falls on or between 1 October and the last day of February, he or she may leave school at the start of the Christmas holidays in that same school year.
  • A young person is under 18 but over school leaving age.


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Is there a minimum age requirement for work?

  • No child shall be employed under the age of 14 (some local authority bylaws may allow employment of 13 year-olds in certain occupations).


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Are there any types of work a child cannot do?

  • Only light work shall be done.
  • No child will work within any industrial setting such as a factory or industrial site.
  • In any work that may be harmful to their health, well-being or education. This last term is something that will require some judgment on the employer’s part. For example, you shouldn’t let a child operate dangerous equipment. e.g. a meat-slicer in a local shop.


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What hours are children allowed to work?

  • The child shall not work before the close of school hours.
  • Not before 7am (any day).
  • Not after 7pm (any day).
  • Not for more than two hours on any school day.
  • Not for more than two hours on a Sunday.
  • Not for more than eight hours (five hours for under 15 year-olds) on a non-school day or day other than Sunday.
  • Not for more than 35 hours (25 hours for under 15 year-olds) during school holidays.
  • Not for more than four hours in any day without a rest break of one hour.
  • Not without two consecutive weeks holiday per year to be taken during school holidays.


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What health and safety issues need to be considered?

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 state that an employer needs to carry out a risk assessment and ensure control measures are in place before the child begins work.
  • The employer must provide the parents or guardians of children at work with information on the key findings of the risk assessment and the control measures taken, before the child starts work.


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