Employing Younger Workers

All UK employers are subject to compliance with Working Time Regulations.

However, there are specific rules which must be followed when employing young workers; specifically, employing under 18-year-olds. And getting it wrong could leave you facing serious legal repercussions.

In this guide, we look at the laws regarding hiring under 18s, what employment rights they have, and the benefits of employing young workers.

Employment rights for under 18s

There are some restrictions on what jobs young workers can do, what hours they are allowed to work and what rest breaks they must get.

These restrictions vary depending on the age of the worker.

Some local authorities also have by-laws which put specific restrictions on young people working in that area. These are typically in place for under 16-year-olds and can be found by contacting your council department.

Under 18 employment rules on rest breaks and working hours

The under 18 employment laws (UK) outline that when employing young workers, you must make sure they don’t work more than eight hours a day, and 40 hours per week.

They must have a 30-minute break if they work more than 4.5 hours; 12 hours' rest between shifts each day; and 48 hours' continuous rest each week.

Failure to allow all employment rights that under 18-year-olds are entitled to can result in costly tribunal claims.

It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between employing children and employing young workers. Under 18 employment rules outline that a young worker is someone who’s above the compulsory school age but under 18.

Employing someone under 18 who’s also below the compulsory school age will be classed as employing a child.

For the avoidance of doubt, In England, children can leave school on the last Friday in June if they'll turn 16 by the end of the school holidays.

In Scotland, children can leave school after 31 May of the year that they turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September.

If they turn 16 between 1 October and the end of February, they can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year.

In Wales, children can leave school on the last Friday in June if they’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays for that school year.

Benefits of employing young workers

There are many benefits of employing young workers. Firstly, employing someone under 18 can often be a cost-effective solution since they have a lower national minimum wage rate and starting salaries usually don’t attract the same wage bill as older, more experience workers.

Additionally, employing young workers can allow for new perspectives and fresh ideas from a different generation with different ways of thinking. Specifically, tech-savvy businesses who want to make the most of people who have grown up with technology and know the trends and complexities associated with computers, the Internet and social media.

Whilst under 18 employment laws UK don’t obligate employers to provide training, young employees can be seen as a blank state to mould into practices and preferences without having to break bad habit from previous workplaces. Therefore, the benefits of employing young workers can be significant for organisations embrace and take an active role in their training and development.

Expert support on employment contracts with Peninsula

There are lots of benefits to hiring young people but depending on their age, there are different rules to consider. And getting it wrong can result in your facing employment tribunal and hefty fines.

Get our expert team to draft policy for you. We can create employment contracts that lets your staff know the rules and keep you on the right side of the law. Peninsula clients get access to 24/7 HR to consult with our specialists.

Download this free guide to learn more about

  •  What is the compulsory school leaving age?
  •  Employing children
  •  Employing young workers
  •  Employment rights
  •  Pay

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