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Georgina Went

Children in the workplace

October 24th, 2016

Trainee Solicitor, Georgina Went, considers the effect employment law has on children and the consequences of non-compliance of this law.

Minimum ages a child can work

Part time work

The law dictates that the youngest age a child can carry out part-time work is at the age of 13.

However, there is an exception to this rule. A child under the age of 13 is permitted to carry out part time work if it is in sectors such as theatre, modelling or television.

In order to fit into this exception, the child must have a performance license.

What is a performance licence?

A child will need a performing licence if they are performing in a show, concert or other public performance which an audience is paying for. Additional to this, the criteria also includes a sporting event or a modelling job, both of which the child is being paid for. If the performance is going to be taking place on a licensed premises, then it is essential that a performance licence is applied for.

A performance license should be applied for by the person in charge of running an event and they must do so by applying to the child’s local council.

The child’s council will arrange for a chaperone to supervise the performance of the child, if they are not going to be supervised by a parent or another authorised person.

Full time work

The law dictates that children can begin full time work once they have reached the minimum school leaving age. It is worth bearing in mind that between the ages of 16 and 18, a child has an obligation to stay in at least part time education or training.

Once a child has reached the minimum school leaving age they can work for up to 10 hours per week.

What do children have to be paid?

Children under the age of 16

If a child is still deemed as ‘school- aged’ then they are not entitled to National Minimum Wage.

Children who are under 16 do not have to pay National Insurance and therefore they do not have to be included on a company’s payroll should their income not cover their personal allowance, which is currently £11,000.

Children between the ages of 16 and 17

Children of this age are entitled to £3.87 an hour. As an employer of a child between the ages of 16 and 17 you need to report and record their pay and undertake any PAYE tasks if they earn more than £112 a week.

Restrictions on employing children

The Government have set out all of the restrictions in relation to when and where children can work on their website:

For ease, this is the list of restrictions which are in place to protect the children in our society:

Children are not allowed to work:

  • without an employment permit issued by the education department of the local council, if this is required by local bylaws
  • in places like a factory or industrial site
  • during school hours
  • before 7am or after 7pm
  • for more than one hour before school (unless local bylaws allow it)
  • for more than 4 hours without taking a break of at least 1 hour
  • in most jobs in pubs and betting shops and those prohibited in local bylaws
  • in any work that may be harmful to their health, well-being or education
  • without having a 2-week break from any work during the school holidays in each calendar year

Term time employment

Children who are still at school have special protection during term times. You are not allowed to employ a child for longer than 2 hours for each school day or on a Sunday. In relation to Saturdays, you are not allowed to exceed 5 hours.

If a child is 15-16 years of age, you cannot employ them for longer than 8 hours on a Saturday.
School holiday employment

Often, children who are still at school would like the opportunity to work during their six-week summer holiday. During these times, there are special rules in place to ensure that children still receive adequate protection.

13-14 years of age

During the week, they cannot exceed 25 hours of employment in total. On each specific day, they cannot work longer than 5 hours and this is mirrored on a Saturday.  On a Sunday, they cannot exceed 2 hours of working.

15-16 years of age

During the week, they cannot exceed 35 hours of employment in total. On each specific day, they cannot work longer than 8 hours and this is mirrored on a Saturday. Similarly, to younger children, they also cannot exceed 2 hours of working on a Sunday.

Child employment permit

The majority of councils are of the opinion that if a business wants to employ a child, they must apply for a child employment permit beforehand.

If a business fails to do so, it may have an effect on their insurance. They may not have cover over any incidents which involve the said child in the workplace.

It is important that businesses comply with these requirements and restrictions. If these are not complied with, you could find yourself facing prosecution.


If you are in need of any further Employment Law advice, do not hesitate in contacting us today on 01494 773377 or email 



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