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Child Employment

Page last updated: 17/02/2020

Part-time employment

The law relating to child employment allows for young people aged 13 and above to take on part time employment. Any young person who assists in a trade or occupation for profit is considered as employed, even if they receive no payment.  For example, children who help their parents in a shop without receiving payment are still considered to be employed.

Application has to be made for such employment to Essex County Council and a permit granted. Applications contain a declaration by the Head teacher which needs to be signed before the application is submitted to the Missing Education and Child Employment Service.
Employers must apply for a work permit for a child within one week of employing them. The application form will need to have all sections completed, including:
  • ​employer's name and address
  • name, address and date of birth of the child
  • details of the school the child attends
  • the hours and days for both term time and non-term time employment
  • the occupation in which the child is to be employed and details of the tasks involved
  • signed declaration by the employer to confirm they have carried out an appropriate health and safety risk assessment and that their employers liability insurance covers the employment of young people
  • signed declaration by the parent/carer giving their consent
Once the permit has been issued the employer must only employ the child in accordance with the permit.
The local authority may revoke a child’s employment permit if the authority thinks that the child is undertaking illegal tasks or the child’s health, welfare or education is likely to suffer.

Once the permit has been issued an officer from the Missing Education and Child Employment Service may visit the child’s place of work to ensure that the terms of the work permit are being upheld.​

Full Time Work 

No child or young person of compulsory school age is eligible for full time work. Where a young person wishes to engage in full time work, they must first reach minimum school leaving age.

Restrictions upon when and where children and young people are eligible to work

Children are not allowed to work:
  • ​without an employment permit issued by the education department (this role is fulfilled by the Missing Education and Child Employment Service for children and young people within Essex)
  • in places like a factory or industrial site
  • during school hours
  • before 7am or after 7pm
  • for more than one hour before school
  • for more than 4 hours without taking a break of at least 1 hour
  • in most jobs in pubs and betting shops 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
There are also special rules which only apply during term times and school holiday times. See more information below.​​

Permitted and prohibited employment

​​Examples of permitted employment

  • ​light agricultural/horticultural
  • delivering newspapers
  • hairdressing - general duties
  • office
  • café/restaurant - waiting tables/general duties
  • riding stables
  • domestic hotel duties
  • shop work - general duties

Exampl​es of prohibited employment

  • ​cinema, night club, disco
  • street trading
  • commercial kitchen preparing or cooking food
  • fairground/amusement arcade or skittle alley
  • collecting money or selling/canvassing door to door
  • slaughter house
  • industrial, construction or manufacturing industries
  • selling or delivering alcohol
  • collecting/sorting rubbish
  • delivering milk or fuel
  • using dangerous machinery
  • telephone sales
  • personal care of residents in care/nursing homes
  • exposure to biological or chemical agents
  • anything that is three metres or more above ground level
  • anything that involves exposure to adult material
  • anything that involves heavy lifting

Term time/school holiday 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
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​

Times and hours permitted for child employment

7am – 7pm
Monday to Friday
Maximum Hours Per Week
13 & 14
2 Hours
5 Hours
2 Hours
12 Hours
15 & 16
2 Hours
8 Hours
2 Hours
12 Hours
School Holidays
7am – 7pm
13 & 14
5 Hours
5 Hours
2 Hours
25 Hours
15 & 16
8 Hours
8 Hours
2 Hours
35 Hours


If you have a query relating to a child or young person who is involved in employment or entertainment, please contact our Child Employment Team on:
Telephone: 0333 013 8967

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