Employing Young People
Companies can employ young people over the age of 13 but there are rules about how long they can work and the kind of jobs they can do. Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, restrictions are imposed on the hours of work and rest breaks of young persons, that is those over school leaving age but under 18 years old. Specifically, young people under the age of 18 may not work for more than 40 hours in any week or for more than eight hours on any day (including overtime hours). In addition, they must not be employed at night between 10 pm and 6 am or, where their contract requires them to work after 10pm, between 11 pm and 7 am. There is no facility for a young person to opt out of these provisions and no provision for averaging working hours over several weeks.
In respect of health and safety matters, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 places restrictions on the employment of young people in certain types of work and on the exposure of young persons to hazardous situations at work. For example, employers must not employ young people in work that is beyond their physical or psychological capacity, or in which there is a risk to health from extreme cold, heat, noise or vibration.
Employers must not employ a young person unless the employer has carried out or reviewed a risk assessment in relation to risks to the health and safety of young people. It is not necessary to carry out a new risk assessment each time a young person is employed, provided that the current risk assessment takes account of the characteristics of young people and activities that present significant risks to their health and safety.
Essentially, young people have the same employment rights as people over the age of 18, apart from rights under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, which provides for a lower rate for 16- and 17-year-olds. The Equality Act 2010 applies equally to young people and the right to complain to an employment tribunal about discrimination is available without any age restrictions.
Once the worker reaches the age of 18, they are classified as an ‘adult worker’ and different rules apply.
There are a wide range of documents for use by employers that employ young workers, including a young worker offer letter and employment contract and a young worker risk assessment. There are also documents for use by employers who employ interns.
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.