Children and young people

The employment of children is generally subject to limitations regarding the number of hours that they can work. Children also have a number of special rights and protections in the workplace, justified on health and safety grounds. It is important for all employers of children to be aware of the legal framework in the country in which they are operating. In the UK, the definition of a ‘child’ is a person not over compulsory school age (i.e. up to the last Friday in June in the academic year of his/her 16th birthday). A young person is a person who has ceased to be a child but is under 18. The general principle, subject to exceptions, is that a child under 14 may not work.

Any organisation employing a child of compulsory school age must inform the local education authority in order to obtain an employment permit for that child. Without one, the child may not be covered under the terms of the employer’s insurance policy. This does not apply, however, in respect of children who are carrying out work experience arranged by their school.

Employers should carry out risk assessments before employing young persons, and recognise that working environments may pose greater hazards to those inexperienced or less mature.

In the UK, young workers have particular rights under the Working Time Regulations 1998, particularly relating to rest breaks and night work assessments, as well as set hourly rates for minimum wage purposes. There are different definitions of young workers for these purposes.

All young persons should receive appropriate health and safety training.„„