The law, mainly relating to working time entitlements, is different when the employee is under the age of 18 and employers should be aware of the differences to ensure compliance.

The working time of young workers (over school leaving age but under 18) 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 either to maintain continuity of service/production. The young worker’s education or training must not be adversely affected by working for the extra hours.

Regulations generally prohibit young workers from working between the hours of midnight and 4am. These restrictions do not apply when the young worker is employed in certain industries, in hospitals or similar establishments. If the worker subsequently misses a break, the young worker should be supervised where necessary for the young worker’s protection. The worker must also be given compensatory rest.

Different rules apply to a worker who is of ‘compulsory school age’.

Generally, children aged 13 and under are not permitted to work. Exceptionally, and with the implementation of regional byelaws, 13 year olds may do light work e.g. a paper round.

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 (who are not over compulsory school age) are largely the same as for 14 year olds with the following alterations:

• not more than 8 hours on a Saturday or on weekdays during school holidays;
• not 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 continuously for more than 4 hours.

People who are over compulsory school age are entitled to receive national minimum wage. This means that there will be some 15 year olds who should be paid minimum wage; on the other hand there will be some 16 year olds who are not yet entitled.

For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.