Child employment

Children and young people at school age are allowed to work, provided they have a valid Certificate of Employment. The laws governing child employment are there to ensure that your children are protected and not exploited if they have a part-time job while still of compulsory school age.

Children are considered to be employed whether they are paid or not for the work they do.

Compulsory school age

A child is of compulsory school age until the date they are officially allowed to leave school. This is not their 16th birthday or when they receive their national insurance number.

In England and Wales the official school leaving date is the last Friday in June for children in their final year of secondary education (normally Year 11).

Parent’s income

Any money that a child may earn does not affect your entitlement to Universal Credit.

The law

The Children (Protection at Work) (No 2) Regulations 2000 state that 13-16 year olds may only work for a maximum of 12 hours each week during term time - that is any week when a child is required to attend school:

  • No child under 13 years of age can be employed.
  • Children aged 13 may only be employed in those jobs specified in the local byelaws.

Children still of compulsory school age who have a Certificate of Employment (issued by the Council in accordance with local byelaws) can be employed, but:

  • not during school hours
  • not before 7am or after 7pm
  • only for two hours on a school day (either two hours after school or one hour before and now hour after school)
  • only for two hours on a Sunday
  • may only work on Saturdays and school holidays (Monday to Friday) for five hours (if under 15 years) or eight hours (if over 15 years).
  • there must be a one-hour break after a maximum four hours working period.
  • Children must have at least one, two-week period free from work in a school holiday during the course of a year.

There are many positive things about working. It encourages independence, responsibility and experience of money management. However, there are some jobs which can be dangerous for young people and they are prohibited. These include:

  • operating machinery
  • preparing meat for sale
  • delivering milk
  • dealing with chemicals
  • work in a commercial kitchen
  • selling alcohol in unsealed containers
  • industrial work
  • working in a bar or club
  • work in any part of a factory
  • agricultural and horticultural work,
  • unless age 14 years and if only employed on occasional basis by your parents/carers.

This is not a complete list. If you are in any doubt about your child’s employment, please see advice from Learning Access Service.

Your child’s employer has a legal duty to let you know of an assessment of any risks that your child may face in carrying out their employment.

Work experience

The information in this leaflet does not apply to work experience which is organised by schools, usually for a two-week period during years 10 or 11. Children who take part in work experience are monitored by school staff and covered for insurance purposes.

Certificate of employment

If your child is considering starting a job they must have a certificate of employment (also sometimes known as a work permit) issued by the council.

Their employer has a legal responsibility to ensure that your child has a certificate of employment. However, as a parent, you should also ensure that your child has the certificate.

Application forms for a certificate of employment are available from your child’s school office or a named member of school staff or the Council’s inclusion officer team. Your employer may also have the form.