Are there any restrictions on hours of work for children?


There are restrictions on the hours of work for children (who are defined in employment law as below the compulsory school age – nominally 16 years of age). 

Children below 13 cannot work (there are special rules for TV and theatre work, where a permit is needed). 

During term time, children can work a maximum of 12 hours a week, made up of: 

  • up to 2 hours on school days and Sundays; and 

  • up to 5 hours for 13 to 14-year-olds, or 8 hours for 15 to 16-year-olds on Saturdays. 

During school holidays: 

  • 13 to 14-year-olds can work a maximum of 25 hours a week, made up of up to 5 hours on weekdays and Saturdays and up to 2 hours on Sundays; and 

  • 15 to 16-year-olds can work a maximum of 35 hours a week, made up of up to 8 hours on weekdays and Saturdays and up to 2 hours on Sundays. 

Children must have at least two weeks free from school and work. And they must not work more than four hours in any day without a break.   

There is more detailed guidance on the specific legal limits on the hours children are allowed to work available at

Local Authorities have powers to vary these hours and conditions, so approach your local authority (e.g. City or Borough Council) for details of the rules in your area. 


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.

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