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This page gives advice on safe and healthy practices relating to young people in the workplace, including guidance for employers who provide work experience for those under the age of 18.
You will also find details of legal duties and obligations, and links to further information.
Because of their age, immaturity, and inexperience, young people could be at greater risk in the workplace.
When they are new to the workplace, they will encounter unfamiliar risks from the work they carry out, and from the working environment.
Employers must ensure that they assess the risks to young persons and make sure they put in place controls to reduce the risks.
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The following definitions for ‘young people’ and ‘children’ are used in relation to legislation and the workplace:
The Health and Safety (Young Persons) Regulations 1997 were incorporated into an amendment of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations in 1999. The amendment consolidated the regulations that had been introduced over that period. The 1999 Regulations require employers to:
Two exemptions to the requirements of the 1997 Regulations are:
There are a number of restrictions on the employment of children.
An employer may be prosecuted for employing a child. If in doubt concerning the correct age of a child or young person, the employer should either demand to see a copy of that person's birth certificate, or other evidence of their age.
To view the full text of the above legislation online, please follow the links under Legislation.
The European Union Working Time Directive is represented in UK law by the Working Time Regulations. The directive places controls on the hours that can be worked by a young person.
Under the working time directive, young people:
For more information on The Working Time Regulations, see our page on Working Time.
Children who are in their last year of compulsory schooling usually participate in work placement schemes approved by the Local Education Authority. This usually takes the form of a one-week placement.
The Education Act 1996 places certain limitations on the type of work. It prohibits work experience where the work concerned is subject to a statutory restriction based on age limits. There may also be local by-laws prohibiting certain work for anyone under 16 years of age.
Your Local Education Authority manages the work experience scheme and often carries out visits prior to placements to look at your health and safety arrangements.
Many colleges and other training providers also have schemes where young persons take part in work experience of varying duration with employers.
The Health and Safety (Training for Employment) Regulations state that those receiving relevant training should be treated as employees for the purposes of health and safety legislation.
Relevant training means work experience provided as part of a training course or programme, or training for employment, or both.
Employers may not take young persons into their employment unless:
Where young persons are already employed, the existing risk assessments must be reviewed accordingly. When assessing or reviewing the risks to young persons, employers must take the following factors into account:
Read more on Risk Assessment Download Healthy Working Lives' Risk Assessment Form Download Risk Assessment Form – Worked Example
Particular attention should be paid to the risks associated with the agents, processes and work listed below:
Harmful substances with one or more of the following risk phrases:
Irritant substances with one or more of the following risk phrases:
In summary, young persons should not be expected to do:
It is also good practice to include a review of the young person's current state of health and look at other personal factors, which may influence the risk assessment process.
Employers must ensure that all young people starting work are given general instruction in health and safety matters in an induction session that is geared to new employees who may not have worked in the industry since leaving school.
In many cases, employers provide increased levels of supervision and support to young persons during the early stages of employment, until they are satisfied that the young persons appreciate the risks they are likely to encounter in the workplace.
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Young Workers (external link) This page from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has information on young people and work and many useful links and downloads, including the TUC's own guidance and The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ Managing the Health and Safety of Young Workers.
Free resources from Healthy Working Lives Links below are to publications pages giving options to download these resources:
Risk Assessment Form Risk Assessment Form – Worked Example
Free guidance from the Health and Safety Executive Note - all links are to external pages on the HSE website giving options to download or order these resources:
The Right Start. Work experience for young people: Health and Safety basics for employers INDG364 (external site)
Priced guidance from the Health and Safety Executive Note – all links are to external pages on the HSE website giving options to order these resources:
Young People at Work – a guide for employers HSG165 (external site)
View The Health and Safety (Young Persons) Regulations 1997 (external site).
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