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Children in employment and entertainment

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Children who work

Restrictions on child employment

The following restrictions apply.

​Age of child​Restrictions that apply
​Children under 13

​Children under the age of 13 years are not allowed to be employed in any capacity by any person(s) and this also includes parents and guardians.

Employment includes assistance in any trade or occasion which is carried on for profit, whether or not payment is received.

​Once a child reaches 13 years of age to the end of their compulsory education, they are allowed to work part-time - but within certain constraints.

​Children 13 to 16

Children of compulsory school age are not allowed to work before 7am or after 7pm on any day.

Once a child is over compulsory school age (on the last Friday in June in the academic year they are 16), registration for work and obtaining an employment permit under this particular legislation no longer applies, even if the child returns to school after this date - for A levels, GNVQ, etc. 

Work permits

If a child is volunteering as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, undertaking work experience organised by the school or volunteering for a ‘not for profit’ organisation they do not require a work permit.

If they are volunteering in a charity shop then they will require a work permit.

During a child's first week at work, the employer is required to submit a work permit application form to legally register the child's employment with the local authority in whose area the employment takes place.

Hours and place of work, employer details, child details and in some cases additional requirements will all be listed on the work permit. Work permits are specific to the child, the employer and the employment.

The employer is required to carry out a risk assessment and ask the parent to sign it. You will need to send this in with your application. Use the link below to download an example risk assessment form.

How to apply for a work permit

Please read the accompanying byelaws before completing the application.

Made under the Children and Young Persons Acts 1933 to 1966 [as amended by the Education Act 1996] - in force as of 4 August 1998.

1. Interpretation and extent

In these Byelaws, unless the context otherwise requires:

"the Authority" means West Northamptonshire Council:

"child" means a person who is not yet over compulsory school age as defined in Section 8 of the Education Act 1996.  [Note: a child ceases to be of compulsory school age on the last Friday in June in the academic year they are 16].

"employment" includes assistance in any trade or occupation which is carried on for profit, whether or not payment is received for that assistance;

"light work" means work which, on account of the inherent nature of the tasks which it involves and the particular conditions under which they are performed -

a. is not likely to be harmful to the safety, health or development of children; and
b. is not such as to be harmful to their attendance at school, their participation in work experience in accordance with Section 560 of the Education Act 1996, or their capacity to benefit from the instruction received or, as the case may be, the experience gained.

"parent" includes any person who has for the time being parental responsibility for a child within the meaning of Section 3 of the Children Act 1989.

"public place" includes any public park, garden, sea beach or railway station and any ground to which the public for the time being have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise;

"street" includes any highway and any public bridge, road, lane, footway, square, court, alley or passage, whether a thoroughfare or not;

"street trading" includes the hawking of newspapers, matches, flowers and other articles, playing, singing or performing for profit, shoe blacking and other like occupations carried on in any street or public place;

"year" except in expressions of age, means a period of twelve months beginning with 1 January.

2. Notification of employment and employment permits

Within 1 week of employing a child, the employer must send to the Authority written notification stating:

a. his own name and address;
b. the name, address and date of birth of the child
c. the hours and days on which the child is to be employed, the occupation in which the child is to be employed, details of the task involved and, if different from [a] above, the place of employment.
d. a statement of the child's fitness to work and of approval for the child to be employed, completed by the child's parent;
e. details of the school at which the child is a registered pupil; and
f. a statement to the effect that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out by the employer.

3. Where, on receipt of a notification, the Local Authority is satisfied that

a. the proposed employment is lawful;
b. the child's health, welfare or ability to take full advantage of his education would not be jeopardised; and
c. the child is fit to undertake the work for which he is to be employed.

It will issue the employer and child with employment permits.

4. Before issuing an employment permit a Local Authority may require a child to have a medical examination

5. The employment permit will state

a. the name, address and date of birth of the child;
b. he hours and days on which the child is to be employed, the occupation in which the child is to be employed, details of the task involved and the place of employment;

6. A child may be employed only in accordance with the details shown on his employment permit

7. A Local Authority may amend a child's employment permit from time to time on the application of an employer

8. The Local Authority may, at any time, revoke a child's employment permit if it has reasonable grounds to believe

a. that the child is being unlawfully employed, or
b. that his health, welfare or ability to take advantage of his education are suffering or likely to suffer as a result of the employment.

9. A child must produce his employment permit for inspection when required to do so by an authorised officer of the Authority or a police officer

10. Street trading

No child under the age of 14 may engage in street trading and a child aged 14 or over may not engage in street trading unless:

a. he is employed to do so by his parent, in connection with their retail business and under their direct supervision; and
b. he has been granted a licence to do so [“a Street Traders Licence”] by the authority and is acting in compliance with the terms of that licence.

11. The Authority may suspend or revoke a street trader's licence if it has reason to believe that the holder's continued employment in street trading would be prejudicial to his health, welfare, or ability to take full advantage of his education, or if the holder

a. is found guilty of any offence connected with the street trading;
b. commits any breach of these byelaws or the terms of his street trader's licence;
c. uses the licence as a means for begging, immorality or any other improper purpose; or
d. fails to notify the Authority within 1 week of any change of address.

12. Prohibited employment

No child of any age may be employed:

a. in a cinema, theatre, discotheque, dance hall or night club, except in connection with a performance given entirely by children;**
b. to sell or deliver alcohol, except in sealed containers;
c. to deliver milk;
d. to deliver fuel oils;
e. in a commercial kitchen;
f. to collect or sort refuse;
g. in any work which is more than 3 metres above ground level, or in the case of internal work, more than 3 metres above floor level;
h. in employment involving harmful exposure to physical, biological or chemical agents;
i. to collect money or to sell or canvass door to door;
j. in work involving exposure to adult material or in situations which are for this reason otherwise unsuitable for children;
k. in telephone sales;
l. in any slaughterhouse or in that part of any butcher's shop or other premises connected with the killing of livestock, butchery, or the preparation of carcasses or meat for sale;
m. as an attendant or assistant in a fairground or amusement arcade or in any other premises used for the purpose of public amusement by means of automatic machines, games of chance or skill or similar devices;
n. in the personal care of residents of any residential care home or nursing home.

**This does not prevent children taking part in performances under the provisions of a licence granted in accordance with the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, and the associated regulations.

13. Permitted employment of children aged 14 and over

A child aged 14 or over may be employed only in light work.

14. Permitted employment of children aged 13

A child aged 13 may not be employed except in light work in one or more of the following specified categories;

a. agricultural or horticultural work;
b. delivery of newspapers, journals and other printed material;
c. shop work, including shelf stacking;
d. hairdressing salons;
e. office work;
f. car washing by hand in a private residential setting;
g. in a cafe or restaurant; [waiting on tables only]
h. in riding stables;

15. Hours of permitted employment

A child may work:

  • for a maximum of 2 hours on school days
  • for a maximum of 2 hours on Sundays
  • for a maximum of 5 hours [if aged under 15] or 8 hours [if 15 or over] on Saturdays and weekdays during the school holidays subject to an overall limit of 25 hours [under 15] or 35 hours [15 and over] a week in the school holidays
  • for only 1 hour before the start of school
  • children will have a 2 week break from any work during any school holiday of more than 3 weeks in duration
  • during term time on Saturdays:- no more than 5 hours if under 15 - this must include a 1 hour break and no more than 8 hours if aged 15 and over - including a 1 hour break after working for 4 hours

16. Children may not

  • work for more than 12 hours in any 1 week in which s / he is required to attend school
  • work before they are 13 years of age
  • work during school hours on school days
  • work before 7am or after 7pm
  • work for more than 4 hours without a break of at least 1 hour
  • work without an employment permit issued by the Local Authority
  • work in any industrial undertaking .e.g. factory, workshop, building site. Involved with machinery etc
  • work in any occupation prohibited by local byelaws or,
  • in any other legislation e.g. Pubs or betting shops or in any work which is likely to be harmful to their health, wellbeing or education
  • take part in certain theatrical or other performances without a licence issued by the Local Authority

Additional condition[s] no child may be employed in any work out of doors unless wearing suitable clothes and shoes.

Application process:

  • the employer completes the child's details, hours of employment, type of work and signs the form
  • the employer passes the form to the child who asks their parent or guardian to sign the form and check the risk assessment
  • the form is then forwarded to the child's school office whose staff will arrange for the form to be signed if they agree to the employment

The form is then emailed to [email protected] who will process the application. If successful, copies will be emailed to the employer and parent or carer.

Please ensure you complete all the required paperwork and email it to us with the required supporting documentation.

Regulations on working hours and types of employment

Section 1 (Byelaws) in the application form above lists a full list of types of employment and hours permissible.

Refusal of a work permit

A permit may be refused by the Local Authority if it considers that the employment is detrimental to the child's educational needs, or welfare. The child's attendance rate at school is also a consideration. 

Using the work permit for more than 1 job

If a child has more than 1 job (whether it is with the same employer, another employer or at a different place of employment) each job needs to be registered separately.

Penalties for not having a work permit

An employer who employs a compulsory school-age child without a work permit is in contravention of the child employment regulations. Action may be taken against them by the local education authority in whose area the employment takes place. This applies to all employers by all local education authorities.

Relevant legislation

Contact us

If you have any questions regarding children in employment and entertainment, you can email [email protected].

Last updated 14 May 2024