School-age children often find that having a part-time job is a positive and rewarding experience, and they can benefit greatly from part-time work. However, your schoolwork, homework, and attendance at school must always come first. We (the council) also have to make sure the jobs that children do are safe, and don’t impact on your health, education, or wellbeing.
Facts about child employment
- Children aged between 13 and 16, as long as they're still of school age (see below), can legally work part-time
- Children under 13 are not allowed to work
- Any job must be done outside of school hours
- Your job must not affect your studies or mean you miss school
- You can only do certain types of work and work certain hours (see 'guidance for the employment of children and young people')
- You must have a work permit if you're still of school age (see below)
What is 'school age'?
You're classed as school age right up until the last Friday in June of Year 11 – even if you're already 16 or have a National Insurance Number. This includes children who are Electively Home Educated (home schooled).
Child employment laws
The law says that any child of school age who's in part-time employment must be registered with the council. The employer must also get an employment permit for the child from the council. Your employer can be prosecuted by the council if they:
- don't register their school age employees
- employ school age children in prohibited occupations
- allow school age children to work outside of the hours allowed by law
The guidance for the employment of children and young people document has more information about the hours children can legally work, and the jobs and places they can and can't work in.
If your employer breaks any laws or byelaws by employing you, they - and any other person seen as legally responsible - will be fined up to £1000 if they're convicted. You won't be fined.
Child Employment Permit
Employers must make sure that a child is registered with the council and has a Child Employment Permit within seven days of the child starting work. The permit is needed to legally register the child’s employment with the council for the area where the employment takes place. This includes children working on a voluntary basis. Child Employment Permits are free and are valid for 12 months.
Employers are responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the children they employ. They must make sure that the child wears suitable clothing and footwear for the job they're doing. They must also carry out a comprehensive, individual risk assessment of the work involved, and tell the child's parent or guardian about the results of the risk assessment.
The employer must make sure they have relevant insurance cover.
Applying for a Child Employment Permit
A child may start their job without a permit, as long as the completed Child Employment Permit application form has been sent to the council within a week of the child starting their job.
Child Employment Permits are issued by the Education Welfare Service. Applications should be e-mailed to email@example.com or sent to: Education Welfare Service, Access to Education, PO Box 505, Middlesbrough House, Corporation Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 2RH. This must be done within the first week that the child starts work.
Download the Child Employment Permit application form. The form must be filled in by the child's employer, with parental consent.
For us to issue a permit, the employer must give all the required information, and we must be satisfied that:
- the proposed employment is legal
- the child’s health, welfare, and ability to take advantage of their education won't be harmed
- the child is fit to carry out the work they're being employed to do
We aim to issue the Child Employment Permit within two weeks of receiving the application.
Conditions of the Child Employment Permit
A child can only be employed in accordance with the conditions shown on the Employment Permit. A copy of the permit will be given to the council for the area in which the child goes to school or lives (if that council is different to the one which issued the permit). The child’s school will also be given a copy of the permit and asked to contact the issuing council if the employment is harming the child’s attendance or punctuality.
The permit must be available to be inspected if an authorised inspection officer asks to see it.
We can cancel a Child Employment Permit at any time, if we have reason to believe:
- the child is being unlawfully employed
- the child's health, welfare, or ability to take advantage of their education are suffering, or likely to suffer, as a result of their employment
Without a Child Employment Permit, the child won't be able to work.
To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the National Network for Children in Employment and Entertainment website.
How old does a child have to be to work part-time?
The minimum age for employment is 13 years old.
A child aged 13 may not be employed, except in light work in one or more of the specified categories set out in the council's byelaws. A child aged 14 or over may be employed only in light work.
Do children need to be registered for work?
Yes. All children who work or assist in a trade or occupation which is carried out to make a profit, are classed as employed (even if they aren't getting paid) and must have a valid Child Employment Permit to work lawfully.
The council monitors and regulates child employment. It is the employer's responsibility to apply for a permit within a week of the young person starting their job. They must carry out a risk assessment, and provide information about the nature of the employment and the working hours. Download a Child Employment Permit application form. The application form also includes a declaration that the child is fit and well.
The form must be completed by the employer and the child's parents, and returned to the Education Welfare Service. It will be checked and, as long as the employment doesn't breach the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 or local byelaws, we'll issue a Child Employment Permit.
To check whether a child is registered with us, contact the Education Welfare Office by emailing email@example.com.
What are the advantages of children being registered with council?
Registering children at work has important benefits for insurance purposes. The Association of British Insurers states that unregistered children may not be covered by the employer's liability insurance. Registration is a means of protecting children's health, safety, and welfare. It also makes sure they get the full benefit of their education, and is a means of protecting them from exploitation.
If there was an accident involving an unregistered child, the employer would be uninsured and would have committed an offence.
What kind of employment is permitted?
Children of 13 years old may only be employed in light work in the following categories:
- newspaper/printed material delivery
- shop work
- hairdressing salon
- office work
- car washing by hand in a residential setting
- in a café/restaurant
- in riding stables
- domestic work in hotels/accommodation
Children over 14 years old may be employed in any light work that is not in the ‘prohibited work’ section.
What kind of employment is not permitted?
- in a cinema/theatre/disco/nightclub
- selling or delivering alcohol
- delivering milk
- delivering fuel oils
- in a commercial kitchen
- to collect/sort refuse
- in work more than 3m above ground level, or internally 3m above floor level
- in work involving harmful exposure to physical, biological, or chemical agents
- collecting money/selling/canvassing door to door (except under adult supervision)
- in work involving exposure to adult material
- in telephone sales
- in premises connected with the preparation of meat for sale
- as an attendant in a fairground or amusement arcade
- in the personal care of residents in any residential care/nursing home, unless under responsible adult supervision
How much should a child be paid and will this affect their parents' entitlement to benefits?
Those of compulsory school age aren't entitled to the national minimum wage. The amount a child is paid is entirely up to their employer. It is likely that any wage paid will be below the wage which adult workers in the same company get.
We advise that children get a letter of appointment before starting their job, which outlines the main terms and conditions of their employment. Verbal promises can easily be broken.
As long as a child is registered to attend school, their earnings from part-time employment should not offset any entitlement to benefits.
If a child has received a National Insurance Number, can they start full-time employment?
No. If a child is of compulsory school age (see 'facts about child employment' above), it means that under the law they are required to attend school. HMRC sends a child their National Insurance Number before they reach school leaving age. Getting a National Insurance Number doesn't authorise a child to start full time work.
Can a child be prevented from working?
Yes. We can prevent a child from working even if their employment complies with the law. If the child's work prevents the child from getting the proper benefit of their education then we have the power to stop the child working. The School Medical Officer can also declare that work is prejudicial to a child's health. In such cases, we would refuse to issue a Child Employment Permit.
It's important to stress that if a child is working illegally it is the employer, not the child, who is committing the offence. The employer is responsible for registering children they employ.
What are the employer's responsibilities?
The employer is responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the children they employ, and must carry out a risk assessment. They can be prosecuted if they:
- don't register school age employees
- employ school age children in prohibited occupations
- allow school age children to work outside permitted hours
Absence from school
Any absence from school due to any employment whether paid or unpaid would be treated as unauthorised, and could lead to legal action against the parent.
Are there different rules for work experience placements?
There are less restrictions for work experience placements than for part-time employment. By law, work experience placements must be approved by the council. This approval is normally carried out by the child's school. Work experience must be in the last two years during which the child is of compulsory school age.
Work experience is an educational activity so no payment related to a rate per hour can be paid. It is, however, permissible to pay 'out of pocket' expenses. Employers can, if they wish, extend the benefits of any employee welfare schemes to work experience pupils.
Any queries regarding a child's placement should first be directed to the child's school. If a child wants to continue working for a firm following a period of work experience with them, then normal employment regulations will apply.