Employing Young Workers

July 7, 2017

At this time of year work experience requests from young people tend to increase, either from those who are looking to gain some experience over the summer, or from Secondary Schools that operate their own work experience scheme. It offers young people a valuable opportunity to gain insight into the world of work, and helps them to start building skills and experience for their future.

Employment rights differ for those who are under 18, and if you are looking to take on an intern or young worker you need to be familiar with the difference in law.

Young Workers

A young worker is someone who has reached the compulsory school leaving age. Whilst all 16 year olds must stay in some form of education or work-based training until they are 18, the compulsory school leaving age remains at 16. Therefore, for these purposes a young person is anyone under the age of 18.

Young workers are:

  • Entitled to a 30-minute break if they work more than 4.5 hours;
  • Entitled to a rest break of 12 hours each day;
  • Entitled to a rest break of 48 hours per week;
  • Entitled to National Minimum Wage of £4.05 per hour

In addition, there are various obligations in relation to Health & Safety, because young workers are deemed to have a lack of experience, maturity and potentially are unlikely to spot hazards in the same way a more experienced employee would. The HSE website offers some useful guidance, and you should seek specialist advice to ensure that your health and safety policies are up to date.


A child is someone who has not yet reached compulsory school age. If you are employing children who are undertaking a work experience scheme with their school then it is likely that they are going to be classed as Children for work purposes. Children can start working part time from the age of 13.

If you are employing a Child, you need to also check the local by-laws issued from time to time from your local authority; some authorities may require businesses to have a permit first.

  • Children are not permitted to work during school hours or before the hours of 7am or after 7pm;
  • If they work for more than 4 hours, Children must be given a break of at least 1 hour;
  • If you are employing a Child during school holidays, they need a clear 2 week break without any work during that period.

If you are unsure of your obligations, seek advice from a specialist employment lawyer. The consequences of breaching the Working Time Regulations or failing to pay the National Minimum Wage can have a detrimental effect on your business.

placeholder Image
Amie Harrison

Trainee Solicitor


placeholder Image
February 20, 2024
Personal Care Factsheets
Read more
placeholder Image
February 20, 2024
Health & Safety Podcast: ESG – Environmental, Social and Governance
Read more
February 19, 2024
QCS 12 audit series: Understand why each audit is important and learn how to share your audit actions with the team – Resource 12: Health and Safety
Read more