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.

All other businesses intending to employ school-aged children must apply for a child employment permit 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 (PDF 748KB) a Child Employment Application form.

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