Child Employment

Legal references on this page apply to England.

Children in Employment

Page updated June 2016

Relaxation Laws Children in Entertainment

The Children (Performances and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014, came into force on 6 February 2015. These new regulations revoke and replace the Children (Performances) Regulations 1968 as they applied to England. For general guidance, see Child performance and activities: licensing legislation Departmental advice for those working with children in certain types of performance or activity in England published February 2015, and Guidance published by NNCEE May 2016.


Introduction

Many local authorities have additional byelaws regulating the work of children. If you/your children are considering working, it is recommended that you contact your local authority who will be able to give you advice relevant to your area. The EC Directive on Protection of Young People at Work" (94/33/EC) states that in general children may not be employed until they are aged at least 15. This is reduced to 14 for light work and there are further notable exceptions "for the purposes of performance in cultural, artistic, sports or advertising activities". See Gov.UK page on child employment rules and NCEE quick guide to child employment In some LAs the same person or department deals with employment licences as with elective home education.

What counts as Employment? Unpaid Work In Charity Shop/Unpaid Work At Youth Club?

As well as employment in its normal meaning, the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 states that a person who assists in a trade or occupation carried on for profit is considered as employed even though he or she may receive no payment. So the rules in the Children and Young Persons Act will apply where, for example, children help their parents in a shop without receiving any payment. The DCSF 2009 Government Guidance on the Employment of Children states that "any occupation where the aim is to make a surplus would be considered as a trade or occupation carried on for profit so, in the Government's view, unpaid work at a charity shop would count as employment, but not, for example, unpaid work at a youth club."

What is "light work"?

A child under the school leaving age may only be employed to do 'light work'. This is: "work which on account of the inherent nature of the tasks which it involves and the particular conditions under which they are performed is not likely to be harmful to the health, safety or development of children and is not such as to be harmful to their attendance at school or to their participation in work experience, or their capacity to benefit from the instruction received or the experience gained". In most areas, "light work" is understood to mean agricultural or horticultural work, delivery of newspapers etc, shop work, hairdressing salons, in a cafe or restaurant, in riding stables and domestic work in hotels. Local bye-laws should always be checked for variations, as should the list of prohibited occupations.

Children's Work Permits

The model byelaws require permits for employment of children under the school leaving age and many authorities have made byelaws which follow the model, so again employers need to check with the local authority where the employment is to take place whether there is a permit system in their byelaws. It is important to check the byelaws made by the local authority where the employment is to take place as there are variations among authorities.

Restrictions for children age 13-16

13 and 14 years old

Working Time

Working Hours

'School Days'
Saturdays
Sundays
'School Holidays' 

Maximum of 2 hrs per day outside of 'school' hrs
Maximum of 4 hrs
Maximum of 2 hrs
Maximum of 4 hrs per day, 20 hrs per week

15 and 16 years old

Working Time

Working Hours

'School Days'
Saturdays
Sundays
'School Holidays' 


Maximum of 2 hrs per day outside of 'school' hrs
Maximum of 8 hrs
Maximum of 2 hrs
Maximum of 8 hrs per day, 30 hrs per week


"School hours"

"In the case of a restriction which relates to the school day or a day on which the child has to go to school the Act does not deal with the position of home educated children"
DCSF 2009 Government Guidance on the Employment of Children

Restrictions on employment

Jobs Not Allowed

Working Environments
Not Allowed

Selling alcohol
Selling on the street
Mobile Food Bar Work
Taking bets
Using dangerous machinery
Selling or Canvassing
Door to door
Any job involving gambling
Any job that may cause injury
Photographic Modelling (unless licensed)

Billiard/Gaming Halls
Amusements Arcades
Betting Shops
Fairgrounds
Markets
Racecourse/tracks
Clubs and Pubs
Kitchens/Chip Shops
Factories
Warehouses
Slaughter Houses
Theatre/Cinema/Disco (unless licensed)


Terms and conditions of employment

There is no minimum payment for young people. The employer will set the rate of pay and it is for the young person and his/her family to determine whether this is fair. A child may not be employed for more than four hours without at least one hour's break. Government guidance interprets this to mean that once a child has been working for more than four hours the child must have the hour's break. It makes no difference if the child has already had shorter breaks within that four-hour period. A child under the school leaving age must have a two-week break from any employment in each year. 'Year' here is a calendar year, not a school year. This break must be taken during the school holidays.

Babysitting

Although this is not normally considered to be employment as it is usually conducted without any form of employment contract and is often unpaid, and the 2009 Government Guidance on the Employment of Children recommends that parents should consider a range of factors before allowing their child to babysit:
  • A babysitter could be at risk of harm from the parents for whom they are babysitting.
  • There is no legal minimum age for babysitting, but if a parent chooses to leave their child with a babysitter who is under 16 the parent remains legally responsible for ensuring that their child comes to no harm – they cannot delegate their parental responsibility.
  • If a child is harmed whilst with a babysitter, the police can prosecute the child's parent for negligence.
  • Parents can be prosecuted for 'wilful neglect' if they leave their child unsupervised "in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health"

(Section 1 of the Children and Young Person's Act 1933)


Work Experience

It should be noted that the 2009 Government Guidance on the Employment of Children specify that work experience exemptions with respect to hours only apply where the work experience is arranged by the school or by the local authority. As with so many other areas of law, the Government Guidelines do not cover the case where children are in elective home education and parents may wish to take legal advice on the matter. It should be noted that the Guidance says "in the case of a restriction which relates to the school day or a day on which the child has to go to school the Act does not deal with the position of home educated children."

"Some of the rules set out in the earlier sections of this guidance do not apply where the child’s employment is work experience. The work experience must however be arranged by the local authority or by the governing body of a school acting on behalf of the local authority if these rules are to be relaxed. This relaxation of rules is contained in section 560 of the Education Act 1996. The work experience must be in the last two school years during which the child is of compulsory school age."

"None of the restrictions relating to hours apply to work experience but there are other rules, which normally apply to 16 and 17 year-olds rather than children under the school leaving age. Children on work experience should normally only work for no more than eight hours each day and 40 hours each week. In some cases this will be a legal requirement under the Working Time Regulations 1998. In other cases, although it may not be a legal requirement, DCSF would recommend that children on work experience should not work longer than these hours."
DCSF 2009 Government Guidance on the Employment of Children


Link Reference

This article is http://edyourself.org/articles/childemployment.php. The following links to other websites are contained in the article, displayed as citations to aid you in printing the document.

  1. Guidance published by NNCEE http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/3309/regulation/1/made
  2. NCEE quick guide to child employment http://www.nncee.org.uk/legislation-employment-a-entertainment/employment/employment-quick-guide
  3. DCSF 2009 Government Guidance on the Employment of Children http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/23-24/12
  4. DCSF 2009 Government Guidance on the Employment of Children http://edyourself.org/Child_employment09.pdf
  5. 2009 Government Guidance on the Employment of Children http://edyourself.org/Child_employment09.pdf
  6. 2009 Government Guidance on the Employment of Children http://edyourself.org/Child_employment09.pdf
  7. DCSF 2009 Government Guidance on the Employment of Children http://edyourself.org/Child_employment09.pdf