Employment (part-time work)
Child Employment in England is covered by the Children & Young Person Act 1933 and also by local byelaws, which are drawn up by each Local Authority. There are model byelaws which were written in 1998 and can be seen in the Child Employment Document from UK Parliament shown in the downloads on this page.
Failure to comply with the Child Employment Legislation can lead to prosecution. The penalty for an offence under this legislation is £1000 fine or 6 months in prison.
1933 Children & Young Person Act
1933 CHILDREN & YOUNG PERSON ACT together with Local Authority Byelaws.
Summary of the legislation covering compulsory school age children
- Children of Compulsory School Age are not allowed to work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on any day
- UK legislation dictates that children under the age of 13 years are not allowed to be employed in any capacity by any person/s (this also includes parents/guardians/relatives) whether they are paid or unpaid.
- Once a child reaches 13 years of age (14 years in some local authority areas) to the end of their compulsory education, which is the end of their final GCSE year (Year 11), they are allowed to work part-time - but within certain constraints. Once a child is over compulsory school age registration for work and the need to obtain an employment (work) permit under this legislation no longer applies, even if the child returns to school after this date (or A levels, GNVQ etc.).
- Since September 1997 there has only been one school leaving date, which is the last Friday in June each year. This is the year that the child reaches their 16th birthday. This applies to every child in their final GCSE year, even if their 16th birthday is not until the July or August of that school year.
- There are 9 permitted types of employment for children aged 13 only. Note: some local authority byelaws may not permit children to start work until they are 14 years old (see your local education authority byelaws).
- There is a list of permitted employment for 13 year old's only. There isn't a list of permitted employment for 14, 15 & 16 year old's but there is a list (found in your local authority byelaws) of prohibited employment for all age groups. Note: these lists may vary from one local authority to another.
- A Health & Safety Risk Assessment should be completed for all working children Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulation 1999 to HMSO - main regulation which specifically requires employers to assess risks to employees and others arising from work activities. The employer should pay particular attention to the child's lack of experience in the workplace and notify their parent or guardian that a risk assessment has taken place. Note for employers. Your local Environmental Services or Health & Safety Executive can offer additional advice on carrying out risk assessments.
- During a child's first week at work the employer is required to submit an employment permit application form in order to legally register the child's employment with the local authority in whose area the employment takes place (not where the child lives or where the child goes to school). Note: permission notes from school or parent are not acceptable forms of registration. Registration must take place through a local authority.
- Penalties (see attachment) - an employer who employs a compulsory school age child without an employment (work) permit is in contravention of the child employment regulations and action may be taken against them by the local education authority in whose area the employment takes place. This is applicable to all employers by all local authorities.
- Once an application has been submitted (and meets all the requirements of the Act and local authority byelaws) an employment (work) permit will be issued (to employer and child), confirming that the child is registered for work. Hours and place of work, employer details, child details and in some cases additional requirements will all be listed on the employment permit. Note: Local Authorities may give a copy of the permit to the local authority in whose area the child goes to school or lives. You should check with your local authority for their procedures. NOTE: see Direct Gov Website to location local authorities
- Employment (work) permits are specific to the child, the employer and the employment. If a child has more than one job (whether it is with the same employer, another employer or at a different place of employment) each job needs to be registered separately with the appropriate local education authority.
Education & Training from 16 to 18 years does not change child employment law
(you do not need permits or licences once over compulsory school age)
You can leave school on the last Friday in June as long as you’ll have turned 16 by the end of that school year’s summer holidays. However, you may need to stay in some form of education or training for longer.
Staying in education or training in England until you’re 18
This doesn’t have to mean staying in school, it can be:
- full-time education (school, college)
- an apprenticeship
- full-time employment (over 20 hours a week) combined with part-time education or training
In Scotland, if you turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September you can leave school after 31 May of that year.
If you turn 16 between 1 October and the end of February you can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year.