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
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 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