Guide

Employing children and young people

Employing workers over compulsory school leaving age and under 18

Young workers, workers who are over the compulsory school-leaving age but under 18 must not work for more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. These hours worked cannot be averaged out and there is no opt-out available. If you employ anybody in this age group you must also give them:

  • a break of 30 minutes if they work for more than four and a half hours each working day
  • a rest period of 12 hours between each working day
  • two days off a week

Young workers can not ordinarily work between 22:00 and 06:00. For more information on the rules for night workers, see Sunday working and night working.

National minimum wage (NMW)

All 16 and 17 year olds who are above school leaving age are entitled to a national minimum wage (NMW) of £4.35 an hour.

Apprentices under the age of 19, or who are 19 or over but in the first year of their apprenticeship, are entitled to a NMW of £3.90 an hour (this rate does not apply to Higher Level Apprenticeships).

Risk assessments

You must carry out, or review, a risk assessment, paying attention to the health and safety implications of employing young people.

Read Health and Safety Executive guidance on employing young people in the workplace.

Training

If you take on an employee aged 16 or 17 who has not achieved a certain standard in their education, they may be entitled to reasonable paid time off for study or training. Your business may be entitled to financial help toward the cost of this.

You can take on an employee under the Apprenticeships programme or one of your employees can join the programme. Read more about Apprenticeships: delivering work-based training and qualifications to employees.

Redundancy

Age legislation removes the age limits on redundancy pay. This means that redundancy payments are available to employees, who have the minimum qualifying service of two years or more, regardless of age.

Payments are calculated using a formula with bands based on age, length of service and weekly pay. Employees receive half a week's pay per year of service for each year served up to their 22nd birthday, one week's pay per year of service after their 22nd birthday and one and a half weeks' pay per year of service after their 41st birthday.