This guidance is about the rules which apply to the employment of children under the school leaving age.
A young person who assists in a trade or occupation for profit is considered as employed, even if they receive no payment. For example, children who help their parents in a shop without receiving payment.
Application has to be made for such employment to Essex County Council and a permit granted.
The permit system
Employers must apply for a work permit for a child within one week of employing them. The application form
will need to have all sections completed, including:
- employer's name and address
- name, address and date of birth of the child
- details of the school the child attends
- the hours and days for both term time and non term time employment
- the occupation in which the child is to be employed and details of the tasks involved
- signed declaration by the employer to confirm they have carried out an appropriate health and safety risk assessment and that their employers liability insurance covers the employment of young people
- signed declaration by the parent/carer giving their consent
There are specific rules relating to the employment of 13 year olds. Children aged 13 and over who are of statutory school age can have paid employment (the rules also cover unpaid & voluntary employment) outside school time. The amount of time, the type of employment and when they can be employed are governed by local authority byelaws, which in their turn are based on statute.
A child under 18 cannot be employed for work which:
- is beyond the child’s physical or psychological capacity
- involves harmful exposure to toxic or radioactive substances
- involves a risk which cannot be recognised or avoided by young persons because of their lack of attention to safety or lack of experience and training
- there is a risk to health from extreme cold or heat, noise or vibration
The local authority will issue an employment permit if they are satisfied that the proposed employment is lawful. This means the child’s health, welfare or ability to take full advantage of his or her education would not be jeopardised by employment and that the child is fit to undertake the work for which they are to be employed.
Once the permit has been issued the employer must only employ the child in accordance with the permit.
The local authority may revoke a child’s employment permit if the authority thinks that the child is undertaking illegal tasks or the child’s health, welfare or education is likely to suffer.
Once the permit has been issued a child employment officer may visit the child’s place of work to ensure that the terms of the work permit are being upheld.
General health and safety requirements
All employers have a general duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. In addition, where young persons are employed every employer must ensure they are protected from any risks to their health or safety. Their lack of experience, absence of awareness of existing or potential risks and age must be taken into consideration.
Permitted hours of work for children
|Children must not commence work before 7.00am and must be finished by 7.00pm
||Weekly limit |
||School Holidays Mon - Fri
||Sunday (school terms or holidays)
|Children under 15
|Children aged 15 or over but under the school leaving age
A child may not be employed for more than 4 hours without at least one hour's continuous break.
A young person is still of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June of the school year (1 September - 31 August) in which they reach the age of 16.