16 – 18 year olds

If you are under 18 but have finished secondary school (2nd week in June of year 11), there are special restrictions on doing certain types of work. These are:

  • Work which you are not physically or mentally capable of doing
  • Work which brings you into contact with chemical agents, toxic material or radiation
  • Work which involves a health risk because of extreme cold, heat or vibration.

You are only allowed to do the work above under the following circumstances:

  • Where it is necessary for your training, and
  • Where an experienced person is supervising you, and
  • Where any risk is reduced to the lowest level that is reasonable.

Working hours:

For 16-18 year olds, the law says that YOU MUST NOT:

  • Work more than eight hours a day
  • Work more than 40 hours a week.YOU MUST:
  • You must have twelve hours’ rest between each working day, and 48 hours’ rest per working week.You are also entitled to a 30-minute rest break when you work for longer than four and a half hours.There are special limits on the hours you can work at night. You cannot usually work between 10pm and 6am. If you are contracted to work after 10pm, you must stop work at 11pm and not start again before 7am. There are some exceptions for young people who work in hospitals, agriculture, retail, hotels and catering, bakeries, post/newspaper deliveries, or in connection with cultural, artistic, sporting or advertising activities. You are not allowed to work between midnight and 4am, except in the most exceptional circumstances.

Working at Night:

The rules about working at night do not apply when:-

  • Your employer needs you to work to maintain continuity of service or production, or to respond to a sudden rush in demand; and
  • Doing the work would not affect your education or training; and
  • No adult is available to do the work; and
  • You are supervised by an adult (if this is necessary for your protection) and you are allowed a period of rest as compensation.

If you are allowed to work at night, you must first be given a free assessment of your health and ability to do the work. The assessment should be repeated at regular intervals. You must not work more than eight hours in a 24 hour period.

Time off for Training/Studying:

If you are an employee aged 16 or 17 and have not yet achieved a certain standard of education or training, you are entitled to reasonable time off work for study or training. The time off should be paid at your normal hourly rate.


If you are 16 or over (and above school leaving age) you are entitled to earn a minimum wage. This is called the National Minimum Wage, which for workers aged under 18 is £3.79 an hour.

Under 16

Young people are are not allowed to do work under the age of 16 which is likely to be harmful to your safety, health, development, or work that will affect your attendance at school or participation in work experience. You are not allowed to work:-

  • In a factory or in construction work
  • In transport
  • In a mine
  • On a registered merchant ship.

The local authority where you live may also have some extra rules, called by-laws, about the employment of children and young people in your area. You should check with your local authority if you want to find out what these are. By-laws authorising children and young people to work in street trading must say which days, which hours, and the places where, they may work.

Employers who want to employ children or young people under school leaving age are required to get a permit from their local authority. The permit must be signed by both the employer and one of your parents.

Working Hours:

  • During school hours on any school day
  • For more than two hours on any school day or for more than 12 hours in any week in which you are required to go to school
  • For more than two hours on a Sunday
  • For more than eight hours (five hours if you are under 15) on any day which is not a school day or a Sunday
  • Before 7am or after 7pm
  • For more than 35 hours (25 if you are under the age of 15) in any week in which you are not required to go to school
  • For more than four hours in any day without a break of one hour

At any time, if during the 12 months beginning 1 January, working means that you have not had two uninterrupted weeks of holiday from school.

Type of Work:

  • Delivering newspapers, milk, groceries, foodstuffs, flowers or drapery goods
  • Office work, except in premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor, betting or gaming
  • Hotel and catering work except in the kitchen or portions of premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor
  • Work as a shop assistant, excluding any premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor, betting or gaming
  • Domestic work
  • Light agricultural work or horticultural work for your parents.

If you are under 16, you are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.
If you are under compulsory school leaving age you can only be employed in certain permitted occupations:

Under 14

Type of Work:

There are some extra rules about the employment of children under 14. If you are under 14, you are not allowed to work at all except in the following types of work:-

  • To take part in sport, advertising, modelling, plays, films, television or other entertainment. The employer must apply for a licence from the local authority
  • To do odd jobs for a parent, relative or neighbour
  • To do babysitting.



If you are under 16, you are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

Under 13

However, children of 13 or above may be able to do some other types of work, depending on the by-laws of the local authority in their area. For example, the by-laws may say that children of 13 and above in your area can do a paper-round, or that you can do light work which is not likely to be harmful to your health, safety or development.


If you are under 16, you are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

This information has been taken off the Citizen Advice website: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/young-people/young-people-and-employment/