When establishing whether a child at a certain age is to be employed in any form of job it is imperative first to distinguish is what is meant by the term child.
What definitions will I need to be aware of when considering employing children to work in my business?
The following definitions must be taken into account when wishing to employ children or young workers as part of your business:
- Compulsory school age
- Young worker
A child is any person who is not over compulsory school age.
Compulsory School Age
Compulsory school age starts at five and ends at sixteen – a person will cease to be deemed a child when over compulsory school age.
A young worker is defined as anyone between the ages of fifteen and eighteen and who is over compulsory school age.
What are the timing requirements that individuals of certain ages can be employed for?
The following laws apply to the children of specific ages working for specific times in England and Wales:
- It is illegal for any child to be employed during school hours
- It is illegal for any child under the age of 13 to be employed in any occupation – this does not apply to public performances
- Children must have at least two weeks in a year, during School closures, during which they shall not work
- It is illegal for children to work more than two hours on a Sunday
- It is illegal for children to commence work before 7 am
- It is illegal for children to work after 7 pm
At what times during the week may children be permitted to work?
During the week, on a school day, children can only work according to the following requirements:
- Children can only work for a maximum amount of two hours on a school day
- Children can only work for a maximum of twelve hours in any school week
- Children can only work for a maximum period of one hour a day prior to the start of school
Does the age of the child have any bearing on how many hours can be worked at weekends and during school holidays?
The age of the child does have a bearing on how many hours a child can work during both weekends and school holidays. It applies in relation to the following ages:
- Children aged between 13 and 14
- Children aged between 15 and 16
Children aged between 13 and 14
For children aged between 13 and 14 – they can only work for a maximum period of five hours per day – this does not include schooldays and Sundays
For children aged between 13 and 14 – they can only work for a maximum of 25 total hours in a non school week or any period of 7 consecutive days
Children aged between 15 and 16
For children aged between 15 and 16 – they can only work for a maximum period of 8 hours per day – this does not include schooldays and Sundays
For children aged between 15 and 16 – they can only work for a maximum of 35 total hours in a non school week or any period of 7 consecutive days
Are there any requirements which apply to all children of all ages?
All children of any age, if working for a continuous period of 4 hours – they must be provided with a break of at least one hour.
Are there any regulations in place which affect the working time of young workers over the compulsory school age?
The Working Time Regulations 1998 contain provisions which relate to the employment of workers over 16 but under 18 – i.e. those who are over the compulsory school age.
For example workers over 16 but under 18 who work from 10pm until 6am are entitled to free health assessments.
They can work a maximum of 48 hours in each week or 7 day period and will be entitled to a 30 minute break if they have worked for 4.5 hours.