Child employment

Child employment

The youngest age a child can work part-time is 13, except children involved in areas like:

  • television
  • theatre
  • modelling

Children working in these areas will need a performance licence (link opens in new window).

All other businesses intending to employ school-aged children must apply for a child employment permit (link opens in new window) before they can be employed.

Compulsory school age runs until the last Friday in June of the school year in which they reach 16.

If a child works without a permit, their employer will be committing a criminal offence. The child will not be covered by any employers’ liability insurance, and a parent allowing their child to work illegally could also be liable to prosecution.

A child working in a family business will still need a permit.

There are also limits on the type of work they can do and the hours they can work.

Children are not allowed to work:

  • in a factory, industrial undertaking ,or in a company registered under the Factories Act
  • in a commercial kitchen, preparing and cooking food
  • delivering milk
  • selling and delivering alcohol, except in sealed containers
  • in cinemas, discos and theatres
  • with machinery considered dangerous e.g. meat slicers, garden machinery
  • handling petrol or any other dangerous substances
  • in street trading, including selling of newspapers, flowers and other articles
  • collecting money, selling or canvassing door-to-door except under the supervision of an adult
  • in telephone sales
  • in a slaughterhouse or premises connected with the killing of livestock, butchery or the preparation of meat for sale
  • in a fairground or amusement arcade
  • in the personal care of residents of a care or nursing home
  • in work which involves exposure to adult material

A child aged 13 may be employed only in light work in:

  • shops
  • delivering newspapers and journals
  • an office
  • hairdressing salons
  • cafés or restaurants (excluding preparing or cooking food)
  • light work with animals
  • at riding stables
  • car washing by hand in a private residential setting
  • domestic work in a hotel

The hours a child can work

Aged 13-14:

  • school days - no more than 2 hours a day outside of school hours
  • Saturdays - no more than 5 hours (this must include a 1 hour break after 4 hours) (content error)
  • Sundays - 2 hours
  • school weeks - no more than 12 hours a week
  • school holidays - no more than 5 hours a day (this must include a 1 hour break after 4 hours). Maximum 25 hours a week

Aged 15 - 16:

  • school days - no more than 2 hours a day outside school hours
  • Saturdays - no more than 8 hours (this must include a 1 hour break after 4 hours)
  • Sundays - 2 hours
  • school weeks - no more than 12 hours a week
  • school holidays - no more than 8 hours a day. Maximum 35 hours a week

No children can work before 7 in the morning or after 7 at night.

Withdrawing a permit

We may withdraw a child’s permit if his / her part-time work appears:

  • to be stopping him / her from getting the maximum benefit from school
  • to be affecting his / her attendance at school
  • to vary from the job description (or the permitted hours)

Applying for a work permit

You can download a Child Employment Application form.

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