Child employment

Children aged 13 and over can get a part-time job outside of school hours. But there are laws that affect when they can work and what they can do. This is to protect children and make sure their education does not suffer.

There are separate rules for children in entertainment.

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Coronavirus - Child Employment 

Here is some guidance put together for employers who are employing young people aged 13-16 years (inclusive) during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The NNCEE recommends employers should undertake the following good practice:

  • Write to parents to reassure them about the steps taken to keep employees safe and what to do if they or their child has any concerns or objections. Pass on web links to Government and Public Health England information pages.
  • If any parent or young person no longer wishes to continue with their work, then of course they should be released from their duties. Waiver normal leaver notice periods if people really want to give up.
  • Ensure risk assessments are up to date, signed and dated by parent/guardian, along with having emergency contact details for the young person and their parent / carer.
  • Employers would need to consider the risk of Covid-19 for the young person working and if that increases the risk for other members of their household.
  • Businesses should ensure the young person is able to keep to the rules regarding social distancing when at work. This advice applies to both inside the business and in the external public areas. If this is not possible then the young person should be released from their role until social distancing rules are relaxed.
  • Young people should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds and more frequently than normal.
  • Provide tissues and hand sanitiser, gloves and other personal protection equipment in the shop/business for the young people to use if they need to.
  • If a young person presents at work with Covid-19 symptoms you must send them home and inform the parents straight away and take appropriate action.
  • Do not force anyone to do their work if they need to self-isolate. Find cover for them.
  • Inform the young person / parent / carer if other members of staff have developed symptoms of Covid-19 to see if any additional action should be taken.

In the case of newspaper deliveries,

  • Ensure the young workers do not come into contact with the householders in their course of their work, being able to drop newspapers on doorsteps and through letterboxes. They should not be knocking on doors or obtaining signatures or collecting payment.
  • Ensure young people know what to do if they encounter someone with Covid-19 symptoms in the course of their work / delivery and whom they should report this information to. A young person should not go into the home.
  • Make arrangements for gloves and masks where required. The World Health Organisation has confirmed that the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low, and therefore the risk of contracting Covid-19 through receipt of a printed paper is infinitely small:
  • Only delivering the round alone or with a member of the same household.
  • Consider options to deliver at a time that suits the worker if they feel more comfortable delivering when it is likely that there are fewer people about (though most deliver in the morning anyway) ensuring this still meets employment byelaws.

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The laws count a young person as a child while they are still of compulsory school age (up to the last Friday in June of the 1 September to 31 August school year in which they become 16).

The law applies whenever a child is helping in an employer's business or trade, whether they are paid or not. The law does not apply to babysitting or helping at home

By law, employers wanting to employ a child need a licence for each child, including their own children. They must apply within 7 days of the child starting work.

This means that if you are a child and you have been offered a part time job, your employer must apply for a licence. 

An employer who allows a child to work without getting a licence is breaking the law and could be prosecuted. Without a licence, the child will not be covered by the employer's insurance.

Apply for a child employment licence

The hours children can work vary by age and are different in term time and holidays.

For full details see  GOV.UK - Child employment

If you are employing children, you are responsible for all aspects of the child's safety and wellbeing while they are working for you.

You must do all the following:

  • carry out a risk assessment and share your findings with the parents before you apply for a licence
  • apply for a child employment licence within 7 days of the child starting work
  • make sure the child is wearing suitable clothing and footwear
  • be aware of and follow the laws about child employment at all times 

If your child is starting a part-time job, the employer must share their risk assessment and the child employment licence application form with you.

For us to issue the licence, you need to do the following:

  • check that you are happy with the risk assessment and that the job will not put your child at risk 
  • confirm on the form that you are satisfied that the job will not harm your child's education
  • answer the questions on the form about the child's health - if there is any doubt about the child's fitness to do the work, we may need the child to be checked by the school medical officer

Visits and checks

We visit employers from time to time to check on current licences. We also make visits to look into what is happening if people have raised concerns to us.

Contact us

01270 686199

Attendance and Children Out of School Service
Floor 5
Delamere House
Delamere Street


Page last reviewed: 28 November 2022