Employment rights for young people
Are you thinking of getting a job? Are you already working? If you are employed and under 18, there are certain restrictions on what work you can actually do, where you can do it and for how long each week.
Are you old enough to have a job?
If you're under 13, you cannot legally be employed, although youcan takepartin paid sport or entertainment with permission from your local authority. Once you reach the age of 13,you may be allowedto be employed to do'light work'. This is work which is not likely to affect your health, safety or education. Things you can do may include shop work or taking on a paper round.
Check with the local authority whereyour place of work would beto see what restrictions they have about the employment of 13 year olds.
When you're 14, you can be employed in a wide range of jobs, but there are still somethat you can't do. For example you may not work in factories or on a building site. If you're unsure about whether you can work in certain jobs, check on these with the local authority.
These restrictions last until you become 16 and have left school, when you become classed as a young worker. This means that you'll have more choice in the jobs you can do. If you are 18 or over, you get the same work rights as adults.
- Getting your first job
There are rules that regulate what times of the day you can work and for how long. These are different depending on your age.
There are a lot of rules that control working hours of children, but the basic ones are:
- during term time, you can only work for two hours on weekdays and Sundays
- during term time, you can only work for five hours on Saturdays
- during a school holiday, you can work for up to five hours on a week day or a Saturday
- during a school holiday, you can't work for more than two hours on a Sunday
- you cannot work before 7.00 am or after 7.00 pm on any day
If you're 15 or 16 and are working while you're still at school, your rights are almost identical to those of 14 year olds. However, you are allowed to work for up to eight hours on Saturdays or during the school holidays.
If you're no longer at school and you're 16 or 17, the law refers to you as a 'young worker'. Because you will no longer be at school, there are fewer restrictions on when you can work and for how long, but there are still some rules.
Because you've reached school leaving age, you may find that employers may be more willing to offer you part-time or full-time employment. You're also not limited to just 'light work', so you'll be allowed to work in places like a busy shop, restaurant kitchen or as a waiter or waitress.
- Working hours and young workers
- Getting a holiday job
- Working hours and time off (employment section)
The minimum wage
You become eligible for the National Minimum Wage (NMW) when you're older than school leaving age. The rate ofNMW will then depend on your exact age.
The National Minimum Wage rate changed on 1 October, so make sure you check that you're getting paid the right amount.
- The National Minimum Wage: introduction (employment section)
- Apprenticeships (education and learning section)
Time off and holidays
If you have left school and are working full time, you have the right to at least5.6 weeks' paidannual leave. This works out to be 28 days in a year if you work five days per week.Some employers may offer more as part of your employment contract.
If your company offers little or no training, you can also get time off to work and study if you decide to take any further education courses.
- Working hours and time off (employment section)
- Skills for work if you're under 19 (education and learning section)
If you get made redundant
If youre 16 or 17 and have recently lost your job,your best option is to do some further learning or training. Gaining additional skills and qualifications canhelp you find a newjob quicker, earn more money and increase your career prospects in the future.
Contact your local Connexions service for help. Connexions advisers can helpyou find a suitable opportunity that meetsyour needs, such as an Apprenticeship or a job with training.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim benefits if you choose to look for another job.
- Benefits for young people
- Dealing with redundancy
- First time in the job market
Health and safety at work
All employers have a responsibility to make sure that their employees health and safety are protected at work.
This means that you should expect thorough training that shows you theright way to do your job safely.
You also have health and safety responsibilities as an employee. These include:
- making sure you use the proper methods to carry out tasks, like lifting heavy boxes or using sharp knives
- not putting anyone else at risk of injury
- making sure you're not wearing any clothing or jewellery that is unsuitable for the work you're doing
- reporting any accidents or injuries to your manager
- Employees' health and safety responsibilities (employment section)
More useful links
- Managing your money
- Disabled people: your employment rights (disabled people section)
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