Home > Children & The Law > Employing a Child

Employing a Child

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 2 Oct 2014 |
Child Work Employment Job Hours Local

Children under the age of 13 cannot be paid for work unless it relates to sport, television, theatre, modelling or similar activities where a child is paid for their participation. In order to allow a child to undertake this type of work, the employer needs to have a licence from the local authority first.

If a child is under the age of 13, they have no particular ‘right’ to work. It is, however, possible for children aged 13 or over to undertake part-time work as long as it complies with local byelaws. ‘Work’ for these purposes is defined as light work on an occasional basis. If the area in which you live does not have byelaws that allow children age 13 to take part-time employment, then children in that area have no ‘right’ to work and should not be employed.

14 Year Olds

Children aged 14 years old and above can work but there are limitations, which means they cannot work:
  • Before 7am or after 7pm
  • During school hours
  • Longer than 1 hour before school (if local byelaws allow it)
  • Longer than 25 hours per week during holiday times
  • Longer than four hours without a one hour break
  • Longer than 12 hours in a school week, during term time
  • More than 5 hours on a Saturday during term time or week day during school holidays
Similar limitations apply to 15 and 16 year olds, but they are allowed to work for up to 35 hours in any week during the school holidays.

What is ‘Light’ Work?

Depending on where you live in the country (i.e your local authority) children under 16 can generally undertake farm work (light), newspaper deliveries, shelf stacking and other shop work, office work, hairdressing, domestic work (not kitchens), car washing, and work in hotels.

Children under 16 are generally not allowed to work as street traders, in industrial settings such as mines and quarries, betting shops, charitable collections, petrol stations or in scrap metal.

A substantial number of local authorities have banned the following in relation to children, but it is always worth checking whether your council allows any of these jobs:

  • Collecting money unaccompanied
  • Telesales
  • Working in a butchers
  • Working at an amusement park
  • Working in a commercial kitchen
  • Door-to-door canvassing
  • Delivering milk
  • Alcohol or fuel oils
  • Working in a cinema, night club, disco or theatre

Children’s Working Rights

A child is not entitled to holiday pay. Sick pay will only be paid if a child has a contract specifying that they will be so entitled. A child will only have to pay income tax if their income exceeds their personal allowance during the tax year. This is unlikely to be the case if a child is at school.

A child can usually become a member of a trade union, and can also be included under an employer’s liability insurance. A child must comply with Health and Safety laws. The national minimum wage does not apply to children under the age of 16. However, 16 and 17 year olds are entitled to approximately £3.79 per hour.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kev
    Re: Should we Still Pay Maintenance?
    Hi.my son is 17 at the moment and will be 18 in december. He currently attends an automotive level 2 college course for 9 hrs…
    25 September 2017
  • Cp123
    Re: The Rights of Working Parents
    I've recently asked to change my shifts so they work around school hours 9-3 twice a week and to work a weekend day. As I single…
    25 September 2017
  • LawAndParents
    Re: Could a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?
    Chocpenguin - Your Question:I have a problem my brothers partner has 4 kids 2 of which are my brothers.…
    25 September 2017
  • Dazsteele
    Re: Should we Still Pay Maintenance?
    I am currently paying aliment to my ex wife for my daughter (20) who has just started university, my daughter works part time…
    25 September 2017
  • LawAndParents
    Re: Underage Sex: How to Protect Your Children
    Holly - Your Question:Hi at the age of 15 I had sex and ended up having a child at 16with someone that was 18 At…
    25 September 2017
  • Ribs
    Re: Should we Still Pay Maintenance?
    I have three children living who moved to Portugal with their mother in 2002/2003. The oldest child is 24 years old, 25 in…
    25 September 2017
  • aa17
    Re: Changing a Child's Surname
    Hi my daughters biologic father has had no contact with her since she was 3 she is now 8 , she is known as with my husband surname…
    25 September 2017
  • Sammyloo
    Re: Your Rights as a Grandparent
    My granddaughter has been taken in to foster care. Can I see my granddaughter as social services won’t give me any information at…
    25 September 2017
  • LawAndParents
    Re: Legal Entitlement to Child Benefit and Tax Credits
    Pops - Your Question:Hi, am I entitled to claim any child tax credits as my children live with me 3…
    25 September 2017
  • Debbie
    Re: Prohibited Steps Orders
    My ex says he is taking out a prohibited steps order to stop me moving in with my partner and taking our 10 year old daughter with me. He…
    25 September 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the LawAndParents website. Please read our Disclaimer.