Employing Young Workers: A Legal Overview – Know the Rules

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Can You Hire A 14-Year-Old in the UK? Know The Rules for Employing Young Workers!

From work experience to Saturday jobs, young people are keen to earn extra cash as much as anyone else, but are there any rules when it comes to those below school leaving age and employing young workers?

Bringing young workers on board can be highly beneficial for your business. They can offer fresh perspectives and cost-effective solutions. However, it’s important to remember that they have their own set of employment rights that must be respected and upheld.

In this article, we examine the legal position around employing young workers.

Who Are classified as young workers?

Young workers are those who have reached the school leaving age* but are under the age of 18.

Young workers can commence full-time employment once they reach school-leaving age, but there are restrictions on the hours they can work and specific rules regarding breaks:

  • Young workers cannot work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week.
  • Young workers must also have a 30-minute break if their working day is longer than 4.5 hours, along with 12 hours of rest in any 24-hour period in which they work and 48 hours of rest taken consecutively every week.

*School leaving ages across the UK

The school leaving age across the UK is 16, but depending on where you are in the UK, it will dictate at what point a young person can legally leave school. In some areas of the UK, young people are required to carry out additional training or education beyond this age.

In Scotland, young people can leave school at two points in their final school year, depending on when they turn 16:

  1. If they turn 16 between 1st October and the end of February, they can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays.
  2. If they turn 16 between 1st March and 30th September, they may leave school after 31st May.

In Wales, young people who will be 16 by the end of the year’s summer holiday can leave school on the last Friday in June.

In Northern Ireland, like Scotland, there are two points at which a young person can leave, depending on when they reach 16:

  1. If they turn 16 during the school year (1st September and 1st July), they can leave after the 30th.
  2. If they turn 16 between 2nd July and 31st August, they can’t leave school until 30th June the following year.

In England, if a young person is 16 by the end of the year’s school holidays, they may leave on the last Friday of June. They are then required to do one of the following until they are 18:

  1. Stay in full-time education (e.g., college).
  2. Start an apprenticeship or traineeship.
  3. Spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering while in part-time education or training.

(source www.gov.uk)

Can school-age children undertake any paid employment?

Children can work, but there are stringent rules in place for employees under 18.

Employees under 18 cannot work full-time, and the youngest age a child can work is 13 (with exceptions for things like modelling or acting roles).

To employ those aged 13 and above but under school leaving age, employers will require a child employment permit from their local council, without which the employer will not be insured in the event the child has an accident, and the employer may also be subject to heavy fines.

There are, however, certain types of work that young workers can never carry out, such as working in areas such as factories or industrial sites and in age-restricted activities such as selling or delivering alcohol, betting shops, and so on.

The restrictions placed on where employees under 18 can work will also vary per local bylaws; for example, many prohibit working in commercial kitchens. It is vital that whenever an employer contemplates child employment, they seek advice from their local council before doing so.

Children under 18 working hours also depend on whether they work part-time or during school holidays. For example, during term time, children can work 12 hours a week, and during school holidays, 13- to 14-year-olds can work 25 hours per week.

What about paper rounds?

Many of us had paper rounds once upon a time, and most employment bylaws will allow young workers aged 13–14 to carry out paid work such as delivering newspapers, assisting in an office, or light work in a café. However, on school days, employment rights state that children can only work up to 2 hours outside school hours and can only be employed for up to one hour before school.

Are children under the school-leaving age entitled to the minimum wage?

Those of school age are not entitled to the minimum wage; those aged 16–17 must be paid £5.28 per hour. However, employers must keep records of their working hours and ensure that all necessary risk assessments are updated, especially if you have not previously or recently employed young workers.

If a school places a young person with my company based on work experience, who is responsible for their health and safety?

The employer! The school should ensure the employer has the appropriate risk assessments and safety standards. Still, the employer is responsible for ensuring that health and safety legislation is adhered to, even though there is no employment contract in place.

Again, local bylaws may set out at what age school-age young workers can undertake work experience and where.

And finally…

You must ensure that the employment of young workers is appropriately managed. This includes giving them adequate rest breaks, limiting their working hours, and paying them fairly.

Need advice on employing young workers? Click here: Avensure Contact!