Profile information Account settings
Sign up Log in

Make your Employment contract

Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest

What are the minimum ages children can work?

Full-time work

Only children who have reached the minimum school leaving age are allowed to work full-time. In England, this date falls at the end of the school year once they have turned 16.

In Wales, children can leave school on the last Friday in June, provided they will be turning 16 by the end of that school year’s summer holidays.

In Scotland, this date depends on when in the year the child is born. Children born between 1 March and 30 September can leave school after 31 May of that year. Children born between 1 October and the end of February can leave school at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year.

Children between 16 and 18 can work up to a maximum of 40 hours a week. Once they reach 18, adult employment rights and rules apply.

Part-time work

In terms of part-time work, the minimum age is 13, unless the child is involved in performance work such as:

  • film and television

  • theatre and concerts

  • modelling

  • sporting events

  • other public performances with a paying audience or which take place on licensed premises

How much do children have to be paid?

Children who have not reached the minimum school leaving age are not entitled to the national minimum wage (NMW). For further information, read Minimum wage. Therefore, there is no set minimum hourly rate that they have to be paid. Furthermore, they do not pay National Insurance contributions, so do not have to be included on the payroll unless they earn in excess of the personal allowance.

Young people who have reached the minimum school leaving age are entitled to the relevant rate of the NMW.

Do children require performance licences and supervision?

Children who have not reached the minimum school leaving wage may need a performance licence if they are undertaking performance work (eg films, theatre and modelling). The person in charge of the event or performance will need to apply for a child performance licence with the local council at least 21 days before it takes place.

Furthermore, unless the child will be accompanied by their parent, school teacher or home tutor at the event, they will need to be supervised by a council approved chaperone.

Is a child employment permit required?

Businesses that want to employ young people who have not reached the minimum school leaving age will generally need to apply for a child employment permit from their local council prior to hiring the child - unless this is work experience arranged by the school.

What are the restrictions on child employment?

There are various restrictions on the employment of children who have not reached the minimum school leaving age. For example, they are not allowed to work:

  • during school hours or before 7 am or after 7 pm

  • for more than four hours continuously without taking at least a one hour break

  • in places such as factories, industrial sites, pubs and betting shops

There are more specific rules relating to term-time and school holidays. Furthermore, there are certain council specific by-laws that must be complied with - so it's a good idea to check with the local council's education department or education welfare service. Alternatively, you should Ask a lawyer.

Ask a lawyer

Get quick answers from lawyers, easily.
Characters remaining: 600
Rocket Lawyer On Call Solicitors

Try Rocket Lawyer FREE for 7 days

Start your Premium Membership now and get legal services you can trust at prices you can afford. You’ll get:

All the legal documents you need—customise, share, print & more

Unlimited electronic signatures with RocketSign®

Ask a lawyer questions* and get a response within one business day

Access to legal guides on 100s of topics

A 30-minute consultation with a lawyer about any new issue

33% off hourly rates or a fixed price if you need further legal help

*Subject to terms and conditions