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Employment law guide

Children and young persons

The employment of children and young persons is covered by a number of pieces of legislation. In legal terms a ‘child’ is someone not over the compulsory school age of 16. A ‘young person’ is someone who has ceased to be a child but is under the age of 18. In law ‘a minor’ is a person under the age of 18 years.

No child may be employed whether paid or not if he or she is under the age of 14 years, or for any work other than light work.

There are restrictions on the number of hours children can work, particularly on school days, and before children and young persons start work their employers are obliged to assess the risks to their heath and safety, taking special account of factors such as their inexperience and immaturity, and the extent of training provided.

The Working Time Regulations 1998 also apply different restrictions to the working hours and entitlement to work breaks of young workers compared with adult workers.