Employment of children aged 13-16

Days and hours

The following restrictions apply to the days and hours a child of compulsory school age may work.

Age 13 and 14
Schools days: no more than two hours per day*
Saturdays: five hours
Sundays: two hours
School holidays:five hours per day
Maximum hours: 25 hours per week (ie during school holidays), but 12 hours in any week the child’s school is open (ie during term time).
* Hours which must be outside school hours and only one of which is before school.

Age 15 and 16
School days: not more than two hours per day*
Saturdays: eight hours
Sundays: two hours
School holidays: eight hours a day
Maximum hours: 35 hours per week (ie during school holidays), but 12 hours in any week the child’s school is open (ie during term time).
* Hours which must be outside school hours and only one of which is before school.

In all cases work must not commence before 7am or end after 7pm.

Types of light work that 13 year olds may carry out

  • agricultural or horticultural work
  • delivery of printed matter eg newspapers
  • shop work, including shelf stacking
  • work in hairdressing salons
  • office work
  • car washing by hand in a residential setting
  • work in a cafe or restaurant
  • work in riding stables
  • domestic work in hotels and the like

Street trading

A child of at least 14, may work in his/her parent’s street trading business, but only if he/she is specifically licensed and complies with strict conditions.

Rates of pay

There are no rates of pay laid down for child employees. These are agreed between the employer and employee.

Registering your child for work

It is a legal requirement for children of compulsory school age who work to hold a permit issued by the local authority where the child is employed, eg Ealing Council.

To get an application form for a permit, contact the school attendance service or download the application form (word). The work permit will be issued and sent to the employer, once the application has been approved.

Employers’ responsibilities

It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the young person has a work permit:

  • during the first week of employing a child you must ensure an application is submitted to the school attendance service
  • the employer’s name and address on the form must make clear who the child’s immediate manger is
  • a new permit must be applied for if the hours or type of work change
  • employers must have liability insurance (your insurer may challenge a claim in respect of a child if the child does not have a valid work permit.)  

Employers must also carry out an appropriate risk assessment before employing a young person.  The risk assessment needs to consider, amongst other things: 

  • the physical or physiological capacity of the young worker
  • whether the work involves harmful exposure to agents which are toxic or carcinogenic or involve harmful exposure to radiation
  • the lack of awareness of risks and immaturity of young persons and lack of experience or training
  • the use of work equipment and the way in which it is handled
  • the organisation of processes and activities and the extent of the health and safety training provided or to be provided to the young person.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 state that every employer shall, before employing a child, provide a parent of the child with comprehensive and relevant information on:

  • the risk to his/her health and safety
  • the preventative and protective measures
  • the risk notified to him/her in accordance with regualtions 11(1)(c)

 Further information on the protection of young persons at work can be found in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 approved code of practice and guidance  .

If you are employing your own child, you still need to follow the same procedures as you would any other child employee.

It is illegal to employ full-time any child of compulsory school age, even if he of she has a National Insurance Number.

Health, welfare and education

An employer will be told to end a child’s employment if the child:

  • is late for school
  • does not attend school regularly
  • suffers ill health
  • falls behind on school work

It is against the law:

  • for any child under 13 years of age to work
  • for a child to work without a permit
  • for a child to work in a type of employment prohibited by law (eg local authority by laws)
  • for a 13 year old to do any job other than the jobs listed
  • for any child to do any job other than light work
  • for a child to work more than four hours without a break for one hour
  • to fail to ensure children have at least two consecutive weeks free from work in the school holidays each year


A child who helps in a business, including his or her parent’s business, whether for payment or not, is considered to be employed.

Compulsory school age
A child is of compulsory school age until the last Friday in the June of the school year (September to August) in which he or she reaches the age of 16.

Further information
This page provides an outline of the rules covering child employment, for detailed information download the child employment regulations.

For further information, or if you want information in your own language, contact:

School attendance service
Ealing Council
Perceval House
14-16 Uxbridge Road
London W5 2HL
Tel: (020) 8825 5040
Fax: (020) 8825 5454
Email:   esw@ealing.gov.uk

Other arrangements
Separate arrangements apply for work experience in the last four terms of compulsory schooling, and for the licensing of performances by children (including paid modelling and sport).