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Child employment

Many children work part-time, it can be a helpful source of extra money and good preparation for the future. But many jobs are illegal without a licence from the Local Authority. This guide explains the law and how parents, employers and the Local Authority can work together to make sure children are safe at work.

The basic rules

Under national laws and Staffordshire County Council by-laws, licences can only be issued within strictly defined limits:

  • All work must be "light duties" only.

  • Children must be at least 13 years old to be employed.

  • 13 year olds can only do a job on a specified list.

  • No child under school leaving age can work before 7am or after 7pm on any day (including school holidays).

  • No child can be employed for more than 2 hours on a school day and certainly not during school hours.

  • No child can be employed for more than 12 hours in a school week (including the weekend).

  • Sunday employment is restricted to 2 hours only between 7am and 7pm.

Saturdays and in school holidays

13-14 year olds

13-14 year olds can work a maximum 5 hours per day; up to 25 hours in total per week, (with a one hour break after 4 hours)

15-16 year olds

15-16 year olds can work up to 8 hours per day; up to 35 hours in total per week, (with a one hour break after four hours)

Work falling outside these restrictions is illegal and cannot be licensed.

If you want to employ a child in Staffordshire you must:

  • Apply to Staffordshire County Council for a work permit, for each child you wish to employ.

  • Adhere to the byelaws, set out by Staffordshire County Council regulating the employment of children.

  • Carry out a risk assessment which takes into account the child’s age and maturity.

  • Tell the children’s parents about any risks and measures put in place to protect children from these.

Jobs that must have a licence

Any employment of a school aged child in a "trade or occupation carried on for profit" is illegal without a licence. This includes parents employing their own children in their business, even if they are not paid. Examples of work a child could be licenced for:

  • Paper rounds

  • Shop work

  • Cleaning

  • Work on farms

  • Clerical/office work

  • Leaflet delivery

  • Waiting at tables

Jobs that don't need a licence

Not all work is covered by the law on part-time jobs, itemised below are examples of part-time jobs that do not require a licence:

  • Children doing odd jobs around the house or for neighbours.
  • Babysitting
  • Work experience organised by your child's school.

Parents are strongly advised they know what their child Is responsible for doing and that they are safe.

Illegal employment

Some work cannot be licensed at all and cannot be legally done by school-age children, including any work in:

  • Factories

  • Building site

  • Serving alcohol

  • Milk deliveries

  • Sorting refuse

  • Working with food in commercial kitchens (including chip shops and take-away establishments).

This is not the complete list.  

What should you do if your child wants to work?

  • Satisfy yourself the job is safe for your child - a paper round on dark mornings or nights may not be suitable.

  • Satisfy yourself the employer is reputable and the job is legal.

  • Ensure the employer applies for a licence and obtains your signature.

  • If you are the employer as well as the parent, make sure you get a licence if required.

  • Raise any concerns you may have, either with the employer or Families First. 

  • Make sure your child has a licence to work until they are old enough to leave school - in most cases this will be after they become 16!

School leaving age

From 1998 onwards all children reach school-leaving age on the same date, no matter when they are 16. This is the last Friday in June of their final school year.

No child can leave school at Christmas or Easter. The arrival of a National Insurance Number does not mean they can get a job straight away. Any full-time employment before the leaving date would be an offence by the employer and all part-time employment till then must be licensed by the Local Authority.

Most young people stay on at school or college. From then on, no employment licence is needed and the child employment regulations no longer apply, even if they stay on at school. Parents should, however, try to ensure that their children can cope with both studies and a part-time job.

Which council to apply to?

You should apply to Staffordshire County Council for a child employment license if the child will be working in Staffordshire, if you are unsure, you can check here

Please ensure you apply to the correct council to avoid a delay in your application. 

Contact us

Children in Employment
Staffordshire Place 1
Tipping Street
Stafford
ST16 2DH

ew.statutoryactions@staffordshire.gov.uk

01785 277777

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