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What age can I start work

It is against the law for you to work full-time until you are no longer of compulsory school age. A person ceases to be of school age on the official school leaving date which is the last Friday in June of the school year in which you reach 16.

However, many young people who are still at school work in their spare time to earn some money. The most popular jobs are paper rounds or working part-time in shops.

There are strict regulations covering the hours you can work, the type of work you can do and the minimum age you can work.
Unfortunately there are too many cases where young people of school age have been illegally employed or exploited.
Some young people work for very low wages or very long hours. This in turn can affect their studies, home life and their health and safety.

Starting work - what does the law say?

To prevent abuses and exploitation of young people at work the basic conditions of employment for young people of school age are regulated by law.

The main piece of law is the Children and Young Person's Act 1933. which affects all young people of school age. The 1933 Act gives local authorities the power to make bye-laws which further restrict the hours and conditions of work and the type of jobs young people are allowed to do. These by-laws may differ slightly from area to area, particularly in relation to the types of jobs young people are allowed to do.

Normally you may not work if you are under 14 but 13 year olds may be able to do work which is approved by local authority by-laws. You may only do what is called 'occasional' light work'.

This includes:

  • Agricultural work
  • Newspaper delivery
  • Work in a shop, caf�, salon, office
  • Domestic work in hotels
  • Work in riding stables
  • Car washing by hand in a residential setting

Young people between 14 years old and school leaving age are not allowed to work in the following:

  • Commercial kitchens
  • In cinemas, fairgrounds, arcades, theatres, pubs, discos and night clubs
  • In butchers and slaughterhouses
  • Factories, mines, construction, manufacturing, quarries
  • Collecting money door to door
  • Selling or delivering milk, alcohol, fuel, oils
  • Refuse collection
  • Work involving exposure to adult materials
  • Sales work at heights over 3m e.g. window cleaning
  • Personal care e.g. residential homes unless under adult supervision
  • Handling dangerous loads, cleaning machinery, exposure to chemicals
  • Street trading (working on market stalls) is only permitted for those aged 14 or over provided they are employed by their parents and have a licence from the local authority
  • Any work at night

You must not work:

  • Before 7am and after 7pm
  • During school hours
  • More than two hours on a school day or more than one hour before school starts
  • More than two hours on a Sunday
  • If you are under 15, you may not work for more than 5 hours on a Saturday or on any day during the school holidays
  • If you are 15 or over, you may not work for more than 8 hours on a Saturday or on any day during the school holidays

Conditions that apply to you working

  • You must have a two week break from work during a period in the year when you are not required to attend school
  • There is a statutory rest break of one hour for young people who work for 4 hours or more
  • Young people who are paid to take part in sport, or work as a model are covered by the special licensing provisions which currently cover young people in entertainment
  • All by-laws require employers who wish to employ young people of school age to register with the local education authority and apply for a work permit for the young person
  • If you are under 16 you do not have to pay national insurance contributions and you will not have to pay income tax unless you earn over �8,105 a year
  • When you are no longer of compulsory school age, you can work full time

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