Most employers have at least a basic understanding of employment law, but this may not be so true when it comes to younger workers. From the very definition, to their rights and the laws in place to protect them from exploitation, here’s our quick guide to employing younger people…

Employment law is very specific in regards to workers of different age groups – usually surrounding minimum wage rates and working hours.

Generally speaking, children aged 13 and under are not permitted to work, but local byelaws may permit 13 year olds to do light work such as paper rounds, shelf stacking or basic office work.

Employment law from 14 years old

14 year olds must NOT work;

  • Before 7am and after 7pm on any day
  • More than 2 hours on any school day
  • During school hours
  • More than 5 hours on a Saturday or on weekdays during school holidays
  • More than 2 hours on a Sunday
  • More than 12 hours in a school week
  • More than 25 hours a week during school holidays

Rules for 15 and 16 year olds are largely the same, except for the following adjustments:

  • Must not work more than 8 hours on a Saturday or on weekdays during school holidays
  • Must not work more than 35 hours a week during school holidays

All employees who are still of compulsory school age must have a break of one hour if they work for more than 4 hours.

‘Young workers’ – definition and law

‘Young workers’ are those who are over compulsory school age, but not yet 18. Working time for these workers is limited to 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week.

There are some exemptions to this, including where the employer requires the young worker to undertake work necessary to maintain either continuity of service or production – but the young worker’s education or training must not be adversely affected by working these extra hours.

Young people who left school in summer 2014 must now stay in education or training until the age of 18. One option is to work full time (20 hours or more per week), combined with part-time education or training. If you employ someone under these circumstances, it’s not currently your responsibility to ensure that they’re continuing with their part-time work. However, this may change in the future, so keep any eye on any updates we may send you!

For further clarification, please call our Advice Service on 0800 028 2420.