There are special employment laws in place to protect the rights of young workers. These include health and safety, what jobs you can and can’t do, when you are allowed to work, and how many hours.
These laws are very strict and an employer can be prosecuted for breaking them.
In this article a young person refers to anyone aged over school leaving age and up to 18 and a child is someone who has not yet reached school leaving age.
All employers must complete a health and safety risk assessment before they employ anyone under 18. If you are under school leaving age, the employer must also give your parent (or guardian) the results of the assessment. This would include any risks identified and any measures put in place.
This does not apply to short term or occasional work in a family business or in a private household.
The youngest age a child can work part time is 13 (there may be some local authority rules on this), with the exception of those involved with sport, television, theatre or modelling. These children must have a chaperone with them, and need to apply for a performance licence.
You can only start full time employment once you have reached the minimum school leaving age.
In Scotland, if you turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September, you can leave school after 31 May of that year. If you turn 16 between 1 October and the end of February, you can leave school at the start of the Christmas holidays.
Children are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW). Once you reach the age of 16, you are entitled to earn at least £4.62 an hour (from April 2021). For further details, see the article on National Minimum Wage.
If you are under school leaving age you are not legally entitled to paid holiday from work.
If you are over school leaving age, you are entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday leave the same as other workers. This includes public holidays. To work out how many days holiday you can take a year, you need to multiply the number of days you work in a week by 5.6.
If you’re still at school and under 16, check the hours that you can work. Your school will have information on this from your local council. If you are between 13 and 16, you should apply for a work permit. Your school or council office will have copies of the application form.
If you are between school leaving age and 18, you must not work more than eight hours a day, or more than 40 hours a week. There are also rules on rest breaks and working at night. This can vary depending on the industry you work in.
There are certain restrictions on when and where a child under school leaving age is allowed to work. You are not allowed to work:
There are also some restrictions for young people on when they can work and the type of work they can do. You are not allowed to:
More details on employment law for children and young people can be found at: