What restrictions are there on the work a 14-year-old can do?

The Children and Young Persons Act (1933) sets 14 as the minimum age at which children may be employed, and includes the following restrictions:

  • No child shall do any work other than light work. 'Light work' in this case is defined as tasks and working conditions which would not be harmful to the safety, health or development of children, and would not compromise their education.
  • A 14-year-old may not work for more than five hours on a Saturday or any other day (other than a Sunday) during the holidays. On a Sunday, a 14-year-old may only work two hours.
  • On a school day, a 14-year-old may not work: at all during school hours; before 7am or after 7pm; for more than two hours a day; or for more than 12 hours in any school week.
  • In the holidays, a 14-year-old may not work for more than 25 hours in any week, or for more than four hours in any day without a rest break of one hour.
  • A child must have at least two consecutive non-school weeks a year without work.

In addition to this, children are not allowed to work at all in the following areas:

  • scrap metal sales;
  • betting shops;
  • petrol stations; and
  • house-to-house charitable collections.

Also, although children between the ages of 14 and 16 may be employed in industry (subject to the restrictions on hours), employers have to keep a register of all employees under 16 and their dates of birth.

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) does not apply to workers under 16.

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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