Regulations apply up to the official school leaving date for year 11 pupils, which is the last Friday in June in the school year in which a child reaches the age of 16. This is known as the mandatory school leaving age (MSLA) in the UK. A child over school leaving age can apply for their National Insurance number to:
Department of Social Security
020 8710 5600.
No child under the age of 13 may be employed at all (with the exception of certain light agricultural or horticultural duties for a parent or guardian).
A child may only do light work and the local authority may refuse to issue an employment permit if it is satisfied that the employment is unlawful or harmful to the safety, health, development, school attendance and education of the child.
No child of any age may be employed:
- in a cinema, theatre, discotheque, dance hall or night club, except in connection with a performance given entirely by children
- to sell or deliver alcohol, except in sealed containers
- to deliver milk except on Saturdays and Sundays
- to deliver fuel oils
- in a commercial kitchen
- to collect or sort refuse
- in any work which is more than 3 metres above ground level or, in the case of internal work, more than 3 metres above floor level
- in employment involving harmful exposure to physical, biological or chemical agents
- to collect money or to sell or canvass door-to-door, except under the supervision of an adult
- 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 that part of any butcher's shop or other premises connected with the killing of livestock, butchery or the preparation of carcasses or meat for sale
- as an attendant or assistant in a fairground or amusement arcade or in any other premises used for the purpose of public amusement by means of automatic machines, games of chance or skill or similar devices
- to sell or deliver tobacco or tobacco products
Permitted employment of children aged 13
A child aged 13 may not be employed except in light work in the following categories:
- agricultural or horticultural work
- delivery of newspapers, journals and other printed material, and collecting payment for same
- shop work including shelf-stacking
- hairdressing salons
- office work
- car washing by hand in a private residential setting
- in a cafe or restaurant
- in riding stables
- domestic work in hotels and other establishments offering accommodation
- delivery of milk on Saturdays and Sundays only
Permitted employment of children under 13
A child aged 10 or over may be employed on an occasional basis by and under the direct supervision of his parent in light agricultural work or horticultural work.
Permitted times of employment
- school days - between 7am and 8am and 5pm and 7pm (maximum of 2 hours only)
- Saturday and school holidays - between 7am and 7pm (maximum of 5 hours per day if under 15 years and eight hours per day if over 15 years but under school leaving age)
- Sundays - between 7am and 7pm (maximum of 2 hours only)
- rest breaks - a child may not work for more than 4 hours without a rest break of 1 hour
- school holiday employment - a child who works during school holidays must have at last two consecutive weeks without employment.
Maximum hours per week
Within the above daily limits, 13 and 14 year olds can work up to a maximum of 25 hours per week. During school holidays 15 and 16 year olds can work up to a maximum of 35 hours per week.
Within 1 week of employing a child, the employer must send to the authority a completed application form.
Before issuing an employment permit the local authority may require a child to have a medical examination.
The local authority may amend or evoke a child’s employment permit, if it has reasonable grounds to believe the child is being unlawfully employed or that his/her health, welfare or ability to take advantage, or his/her education are suffering or are likely to suffer as a result of the employment.
The regulations about street trading are different from other forms of employment - details available on request.
Section 21 of the Children and Young Person's Act, as amended, states that if a person is employed in contravention of Section 18 of the Act, or of the provisions of any byelaws made thereunder, the employer and any other person (other than the person employed) to whose act or default the contravention is attributable shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 of the standard scale (£1,000).
A copy of the byelaws is available from the Education Welfare Service, contact details below.
Education Welfare Service
4th Floor, Zone A
Bernard Weatherill House
8 Mint Walk
Croydon, CR0 1EA