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How old do I need to be to start work?

Part-time work

There are national laws that state at what age young people are allowed to start work.

Children are not allowed to work:

  • in places like a factory or industrial site
  • during school hours
  • before 7am or after 7pm
  • for more than one hour before school (unless local bylaws allow it)
  • for more than 4 hours without taking a break of at least 1 hour
  • in any work that may be harmful to their health, well-being or education
  • without having a 2-week break from any work during the school holidays in each calendar year

The youngest age a child can work part-time is 13, except children involved in areas like:

  • television
  • theatre
  • modelling

Children working in these areas will need a performance licence.

Term time rules

During term time children can only work a maximum of 12 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 2 hours on school days and Sundays
  • a maximum of 5 hours on Saturdays for 13 to 14-year-olds, or 8 hours for 15 to 16-year-olds

School holiday rules

During school holidays 13 to 14-year-olds are only allowed to work a maximum of 25 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 5 hours on weekdays and Saturdays
  • a maximum of 2 hours on Sunday

During school holidays 15 to 16-year-olds can only work a maximum of 35 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 8 hours on weekdays and Saturdays
  • a maximum of 2 hours on Sunday

There are also local rules...

Local bylaws list the jobs that children cannot do. If a job is on this list, a child under the minimum school leaving age cannot do this work.

Local bylaws may also have other restrictions on working hours, conditions of work and the type of employment.

Contact your local council’s education department or education welfare service for more information.

Full-time work

Children can only start full-time work once they’ve reached the minimum school leaving age - they can then work up to a maximum of 40 hours a week.

In England, a young person must be in part-time education or training until they’re 18.

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