Are young workers allowed to work the same hours as adult workers?

No. Young workers aged 16 and 17 may not ordinarily work more than eight hours per day or 40 hours per week under the Working Time Regulations 1998, nor at night between 10pm and 6am or 11pm and 7am. Young workers cannot 'opt-out' of the 40-hour limit.

They may work longer hours where:

  • this is necessary to maintain continuity of service or production, or to respond to a surge in demand for a service or product;
  • an adult is not available to perform the duties;
  • the training needs of the young worker concerned are not adversely affected;
  • they are adequately supervised during night work hours, where that is necessary for their protection; and
  • they are allowed equivalent periods of compensatory rest.

Young workers who are seafarers, employed in sea fishing or part of the armed forces are covered by different regulations.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.