Working through the school holidays: a guide for young workers

The school holidays are quickly approaching, and many school-aged children and young people are looking to earn money through the summer holidays. This may be through new employment, or by increasing their hours with their current employer. In this blog, we’ll explore the rules around employing children.

What’s required to employ a child/young person?

Before your business can consider employing school-aged children/young people, you are required by law to apply for a “child employment permit” within one week of the employee starting work. Without a permit, businesses may not be insured against accidents involving the employee. You can find child employment permits and where to submit them on your local council’s website. This information is usually within the Education section.

Your local council may also have their own rules around the types of jobs, working hours, and employment conditions for school-aged workers.

How old do school-age employees need to be?

A child/young person must be at least 13 years old to work part-time unless their work is within TV and film, theatre, or modelling. Children/young people working in these industries must have a performance licence.

Children/young people aged 13-15 are not entitled to National Minimum Wage. However, young people aged 16–17 are entitled to £5.28 per hour.

Once a young person has reached school leaving age, they can work full time (up to 40 hours per week). School leaving age is different in each part of the UK, as detailed below:

Part of the UKWhenIf
Northern IrelandJune 30thThey turn 16 during the school year (01/09 – 01/07).They turn 16 between 02/07 and 31/08, it would be June 30th of the following year.
Scotland31st MayThey turn 16 between 1st March – 30th September.
ScotlandStart of Christmas holidaysThey turn 16 between 1st October – 29th February.
WalesLast Friday in JuneThey’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays.
England*Last Friday in JuneThey’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays

*People in England must stay in some form of education until 18. This can be either full-time education through college, an apprenticeship, or working or volunteering whilst in part-time education.

Are there places children/young people can’t work?

There are certain places where children/young people are prohibited from working.  These include factories, industrials sites, or anywhere that is harmful to their health, well-being, or education.

What hours can children/young people work?

Children/young people cannot work before 7a.m. or after 7p.m., and they are entitled to a break of one hour after four hours of working.

The hours that your school-aged employees can work are also determined by their age and whether it’s term time. During term time, they can work a maximum of 12 hours per week, as set out below:

AgeDayHours (Maximum)
13-14 and 15-16Monday- Friday and Sunday2

During term time, a child/young person cannot work for more than one hour before school, unless they’re allowed by local bylaws. In addition, children/young people cannot work during school hours.

During school holidays, 13–14-year-olds can work a maximum of 25 hours per week, and 15–16-year-olds can work a maximum of 35 hours per week. Their maximum hours per day are set out below:

AgeDayHours (Maximum)
13-14Monday – Saturday5
15-16Monday – Saturday8
13-14 and 15-16Sunday2

Each year, children/young people must have a two-week break from any work during the school holidays.

If you have any questions about employing school-aged children/young people, please contact our Payroll team at