Child employment

A young person is considered to be employed if they work or assist in a trade or occupation which is carried on for profit. This applies even if they receive no payment.

No child under 13 years may be employed. Children from 13 to compulsory school leaving age must have a permit if they work. There are limits to the times and days that children may work, and the types of employment they may do.

Any employer who employs a child of school age must apply for a work permit within 7 days of the child starting work. The child must carry the work permit with them when working. The employer is responsible for the Health and Safety of the child whilst at work.

The employment of children is regulated by:

  • The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and 1963
  • The Education Act 1996
  • The Children (Protection at Work) Regulations 1998
  • Wakefield District Council Byelaws
  • working hours

Working hours will vary depending on age and whether the employment is during term time or school holidays. Night work is not allowed. The table below indicates when work is allowed.

Age and Working Day Regulations

All days

  • no work before 7am or after 7pm

School term time

  • no work during school hours
  • not more than 2 hours work per day (up to 1 hour before school)
  • not more than 10 hours work per week (Monday to Friday)

School holidays

  • not more than 5 hours work per day if child is under 15
  • not more than 25 hours per week if child is under 15
  • not more than 8 hours work per day if child is 15 or over
  • not more than 35 hours per week if child is 15 or over


  • not more than 5 hours work per day if child is under 15
  • not more than 8 hours work per day if child is 15 or over


  • not more than 2 hours work per day regardless of age

Rest breaks and holidays

  • not more than 4 hours work without a rest break of at least one hour
  • at least 2 weeks holiday per year, which must be work and school free

Jobs that a child is not allowed to do

There are various environments that a child may not work in. These include:

  • collecting money
  • cooking
  • amusement arcade
  • butcher's shop
  • pub, club or disco
  • delivering milk
  • factory
  • petrol station
  • on farm machinery
  • door-to-door selling
  • window cleaning

What should parents do?

If your child has a job you must ensure that:

  • you know where your child is working
  • their duties and hours of work are allowed
  • they get a work permit

What should employers do?

If you are employing school-age children you have a legal duty to:

  • apply for a work permit within 7 days using a Permit Application Form
  • undertake a risk assessment using a Risk Assessment Form
  • ensure permitted hours are not exceeded
  • ensure that compulsory rest breaks are observed

Employers who contravene the laws on employment of children risk prosecution in the Magistrates Court.

What should schools do?

Schools can help to prevent children working illegally by:

  • raising awareness of child employment issues in school
  • notifying their Education Welfare Officer of pupils who are working

Schools will be contacted before a work permit is issued. If a school believes that there is a risk to the child working, then the permit will be refused.

What should the public do?

If you believe that a child is working illegally or during the school day, contact the Education Welfare Service.

For more information, see our guide to part-time child employment

Contact Us

Education Welfare Service Second Floor, Block C Normanton Town Hall High Street Normanton WF6 2DZ

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