How many hours can I work?

What are the limits?

What is a work permit?

Where can I find out more?

               
This factsheet provides general information about the law on the employment of children who are under the minimum school leaving age.  It tells you what kind of work they may and may not do, how old children must be in order to work, and the number of hours and times of day that they are allowed to work.  It also tells you about employment permits for children. 



FACT SHEET

This factsheet provides general information about the law on the employment of children who are under the minimum school leaving age.  It tells you what kind of work they may and may not do, how old children must be in order to work, and the number of hours and times of day that they are allowed to work.  It also tells you about employment permits for children.  It is not a full statement of the law.  You should consider taking legal advice on how the law affects your particular circumstances.

Children and young people are allowed to work, but only to the extent that their health, development and education are not put at risk, so the law places restrictions on the type and amount of work they can do.

The general law on child employment is set out in Acts of Parliament and Regulations which are supported by local byelaws put in place by local authorities.  Byelaws aim to reflect the particular needs and circumstances of an area, although in practice, most are broadly similar.

The law covers all forms of paid work done by young people below the minimum school leaving age.  Work experience organised for educational purposes is treated differently and not covered in this factsheet.  There is also separate legislation covering children taking part in public performances and covering particular occupations which is not dealt with in this factsheet.

 

What Legislation Governs the Employment of Children?

The Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937 (as amended) sets out general rules about the work that children are able to do.  Other legislation applies to some jobs and occupations that children may not do.

 

MinimumSchool Leaving Age         

The minimum school leaving age is linked to the point at which a young person turns 16.  Those who turn 16 between 1 October and 28 February may leave school on the "winter leaving date" which is the last day of term before Christmas.  Those who turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September may leave school on the "summer leaving date" which is the last day of the summer term.

 

What Type of Work is Permitted?

The type of work that a young person is allowed to do depends on their age and to some degree on the specific byelaws of their local authority. However, in most cases the following applies:

  • Children under the age of 13 may not be employed, other than in certain forms of entertainment, sports and modelling.
  • Children aged 13 may only be employed if the local authority makes byelaws permitting them to do so.  Where byelaws are made allowing 13 year olds to work, they may only do the types of work listed in the byelaws and classed as "light work".   "Light work" is work that is not likely to be harmful to the safety, health or development of children or to their attendance at school or participation in work experience. 

Young people aged 14 or over may also do "light work" fitting the definition given above.  Where byelaws are made allowing 13 year olds to work, local authorities should list the types of work which are permitted.  This is not required for 14 year olds and older, but they must not be employed in any forms of activity which are prohibited for children by various other pieces of legislation or by the local byelaws.

 

What Hours Can Children Work?

  • There are separate limits on the hours a child may work per week during term time and in the school holidays. There are also limits on the number of hours per day.  A rule which applies to all days is that no work should be done by children before 7.00 am or after 7.00 pm.
  • Limits on working hours are laid down in the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937 rather than in byelaws.  The Act was amended recently by the Scottish Executive to lower the number of hours per week children are permitted to work in term time.  The Regulations amending the act can be viewed at:http://www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/ssi2006/20060140.htm

 

 What are the Limits?

School days: -

  • no more than 2 hours per day to be spent doing paid work
  • no work to be done before the end of or during school hours – although some byelaws might include a provision for children to work for up to one hour before school.

Sundays: - 

  • no more than 2 hours' paid employment in the day.

 Saturdays, bank holidays: -

  • no more than 5 hours' paid employment in the day if you are under 15
  • no more than 8 hours' paid employment in the day if you are 15 or over. 

School weeks: - 

  • no more than 12 hours' work in any week (including Saturdays and Sundays or other days off) in which the child is required to attend school.

School holidays / When the child does not require to attend school for a full week: -

  • no more than 5 hours' paid employment per dayif you are under 15
  • no more than 8 hours' paid employment per dayif you are 15 or over
  • no more than 25 hours' paid employment per week if you are under 15
  • no more than 35 hours' paid employment per week if you are 15 or over 

 

Children under the minimum school leaving age should not work more than 4 hours without a rest break of at least one hour.  There must be a period of at least two weeks in any year which is both school and work-free.  Local byelaws may impose additional restrictions in some cases.  Holiday pay entitlement applies to young people who are above the school leaving age.

 

Local Authority Byelaws

Byelaws may specify:

  • light work permitted for children of 13
  • prohibition of specified occupations for all/any age group
  • additional restrictions on hourly/weekly limits, rest meals and breaks, holidays and half-holidays
  • requirements/regulations on employment permits
  • requests for medical examinations in some circumstances
  • stipulations about, for example, appropriate clothing
  • employment of children for not more than one hour before school
  • street trading for children of 14 and over in parents' businesses is allowed

 

Work Permits

Within one week of employing a child, the employer must send to the local authority written notification stating: -                             

  • his/her name and address
  • the name, address and date of birth of the child
  • details of the school at which the child is a registered pupil
  • confirmation that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out by the employer                       

On approval of an application, the local authority should issue a permit confirming the information sent.  The power to approve and issue permits may be delegated by the local authority to schools.  The local authority can revoke the permit if they think the child is being illegally employed or if they feel the young person's health, welfare or educational progress could suffer because of the employment.

 

All the laws and byelaws concerning child employment are intended to protect the health and safety of young workers.  Employers need to take particular care to comply with all applicable Acts and Regulations such as the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, the Health and Safety (Young Persons) Regulations 1997, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.  Usually the local authority will be responsible for enforcing the law, but in some cases the Health and Safety Executive may take action against an employer who is putting young workers at risk. Children found to be working illegally are likely to be prevented from continuing in their employment.

 

Is There a Minimum Wage for Children?

There is no minimum wage for children who are in employment but are under the school leaving age.

 

Where Can I Find Out More?

To find out more about national employment legislation, you can visit the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) website at: www.dti.gov.uk/employment

For information about local byelaws, you should contact your local authority.

For information about particular legal issues affecting employment of children in a particular occupation, trade or industry contact the relevant trade or industry association or legal adviser.