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A young person is of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June of the academic year in which they reach the age of 16. For a lot of students, that was last week, Friday 28th June (the Academic year runs 1st September – 31st August)

So this month, as millions of Year 11 students have ended their compulsory school education, they can now gain either part-time work or full-time apprenticeships.

There are currently laws in place to protect young people in the workplace. When you employ young people under the age of 18, you have the same responsibilities for their health, safety and welfare as you do for other workers. Once they have left school, they can work up to 40 hours per week. Although in England, a young person must be in part-time education or training until 18 years of age, and work must not interfere with their further education.

Although getting a job can be an exciting way to find independence and make new friends, it’s still a big step and it’s important that no one feels rushed into it.

When employing young workers, employers have a responsibility to keep them safe. This includes making sure they have somewhere safe to work and that their job is suitable for their age and ability. If a child is below school leaving age, their employer must inform their parents or carers about any risks and safety measures.

Young people are likely to be new to the workplace and so are at more risk of injury in the first six months of a job, as they may be less aware of risks due to lack of experience, immaturity or simply be unaware of how to raise concerns

They need clear and sufficient instruction, training and supervision so they understand the importance of health and safety and can work without putting themselves and other people at risk. If your workplace has health and safety representatives, they can play a valuable role early on by helping with their ongoing training and giving employers feedback about particular concerns.

Child Employment in England is covered by the Children & Young Persons Act 1933 and local bylaws drawn up by each local authority. The legislation and bylaws are in place to safeguard children from potential risk to ensure that any employment does not adversely impact their education.

Young people, from their 13th birthday until they leave compulsory education, are allowed to undertake light work as defined within the Child and Young Persons Acts 1933/63 as ‘Not likely to be harmful to the safety, health or development of the child.’

Permitted light work could include newspaper delivery, supporting a qualified coach/leader in a sports club or working in a shop, office or café.

Once the child has found work, the employer must apply for a work permit from the child employment officer within their local council. The form states the type of employment and hours a child is permitted to work. Employers must apply for a work permit for a child within seven days of their start date, and this form must be countersigned by the parent/guardian before returning to the council.

The local authority will issue an employment permit if they are satisfied that the proposed employment is lawful and does not pose a risk to their physical or emotional well-being or education.

The employer must undertake a risk assessment for all children they intend to employ. They should consider their lack of experience, their lack of awareness of existing or potential risks and age. The risk assessment must be shared with their parent or carer before the employment begins.

If you need support with risk assessments, we can help with our consultancy service. Or, why not attend our risk assessment training course, aimed at staff responsible for carrying out risk assessments within their workplace?

Except for a small minority of sectors (such as newspaper deliveries) child employment permits must be requested when employing school age children. If a child is working without a permit, they are working illegally. Should an accident happen, it is extremely unlikely they will be covered by the employer’s liability insurance. The employer could also be prosecuted in a Court of Law.

If children younger than 13 wish to work, they may need a performance licence. For example, if they are in a play, film, concert, sporting event or modelling assignment. The person in charge of the event should contact the childs local council to check if a performance licence is necessary and should make the application.

In summary, during term time, children aged between 13 and 16 should only work a maximum of 12 hours a week and in the school holidays between 25 and 35 hours per week, depending on their age. View the list of permitted working hours of employment here and the South Glos Council Summary of the legislation covering compulsory school age children here.