Child employment

Page updated on: 02/09/2019

A child / young person with a National Insurance number cannot leave school and work full time. A child is of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June of the school year in which they reach their 16th birthday.

Children must be 13 years old to undertake any part-time work. Applications are to be made by parents / guardians / employers when applying for the necessary work permit for 13-16 year olds who wish to engage in part time work whilst they are still of compulsory school age.

It is against the law to employ a child without a permit whether the work is paid or unpaid and there are hours and duties which they may and may not undertake, anything outside this criteria is against the law.

Criteria for each age group can be found below

On school days you can work no more than a total of 2 hours in one day during the following periods:

  • In the morning between 7am and the start of the school ( 1 hour max)
  • In the evening between close of school and 7pm.

On a Saturday you can work 5 hours a day between 7am & 7pm and on Sunday 2 hours a day between 7am & 11am.

During school holidays you can work 5 hours a day on any weekday (except Sundays) between 7am & 7pm, but total hours worked each week must not exceed 25 hours. You must have 2 consecutive weeks break in a year and they must be taken during the school holidays.

  • No child can work more than twelve hours in any week in which he / she is required to attend school.
  • No child of any age may work more than 4 hours in a day without a rest break of 1 hour

You may only be employed in ‘light work’ on one or more of the following:

  • Agricultural or horticultural work
  • Delivery of newspapers, journals and other printed materials
  • Shop work, including shelf staking
  • Hairdressing Salons
  • Office Work
  • In a café or restaurant (but not in a kitchen)
  • In riding stables
  • Domestic work in hotels and other establishments offering accommodation

On school days you can work no more than a total of 2 hours in one day during the following periods:

  • In the morning between 7am and the start of the school ( 1 hour max)
  • In the evening between close of school and 7pm.

On a Saturday you can work 8 hours a day between 7am & 7pm and on Sunday 2 hours a day between 7am & 11am.

During school holidays you can work 8 hours a day on any weekday (except Sundays) between 7am & 7pm, but total hours worked each week must not exceed 35 hours. You must have 2 consecutive weeks break in a year and they must be taken during the school holidays.

  • No child can work more than twelve hours in any week in which he / she is required to attend school.
  • No child of any age may work more than 4 hours in a day without a rest break of 1 hour

You may be employed only in light work. You may engage in street trading if you are employed by your parents in connection with their business and if you are supervised by them, or if you have been granted a street traders licence by the local authority. 

The hours of employment specified for 15 year olds will apply whilst you are of compulsory school age. If you wish, you are legally able to leave school on the last Friday in June in the school year in which you reach the age of 16.

You are not able to take full time employment until after that date.

  • No child can work more than twelve hours in any week in which he / she is required to attend school.
  • No child of any age may work more than 4 hours in a day without a rest break of 1 hour

No child of any age may be employed:

  • On a day that he or she is absent from school by reason of ill-health.
  • In cinema, theatre, discotheque, dance hall or night club, except in connection with a performance given entirely by children.
  • To sell or serve customers with or deliver alcohol.
  • To deliver milk.
  • To deliver fuel oils.
  • In a commercial kitchen.
  • To collect or sort refuse.
  • In any work which is more than three metres above ground level or, in the case of internal work, more than tree metres above floor level.
  • In employment involving harmful exposure to physical, biological or chemical agents.
  • To collect payment or to sell or canvas door to door.
  • In work involving exposure to adult material or in situations which are for this reason otherwise unsuitable for children.
  • In telephone sales.
  • In any slaughterhouse or in
  • As an attendant or assistant in a fairground or amusement arcade or in an other premises used for the purpose of public amusement by means of automatic machines, games of chance of skill or similar devices.
  • In the personal care of residents care home or nursing home unless under the close supervision of a responsible adult.

Once the application form is completed and returned to us, the employer will receive a laminated permit which they must keep in a safe place, and the child will also receive a work permit card.

Apply for a child work permit (.pdf)