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Young people: Employing young workers and children

The law places restrictions on employing children and young workers under the age of 18, to ensure their health, safety and development are not adversely affected by undertaking work.
  • It is generally unlawful to employ a child under the age of 14 years.
  • Children are considered to be 'employed' if they assist in an occupation carried on for profit, even if they receive no payment for the work.
  • Children over 14 years of age but below school leaving age can do only 'light work' and the employer may need a local authority permit to employ them. They will be prohibited from working in an industrial setting, on boats, in a gambling establishment (if under 16 years of age), and will not be able to sell alcohol if they are under 18 (except where it is supplied for consumption with a meal).
  • Young workers over the age of 16 are entitled to receive the national minimum wage even if they are still attending school.
  • Children over school leaving age but under 18 years cannot work more than eight hours a day, or more than 40 hours a week, or do night work (there are exceptions for some sectors, such as hospitals and agriculture).
  • Since 2015, young people have been required to continue in education or training until the end of the school year in which they turn 18.