Employment of children

Find out about byelaws for protecting children in employment and children involved in performances.

Getting used to the world of work is great for our children. They learn responsibility, how to work as part of a team, gain valuable life experience and see the financial and social benefits of work. Because children are physically immature and have very little experience of what can go wrong at work, they are more at risk from hazards that adults would understand and deal with as a matter of routine.

Employers have a special duty to ensure that children's experience in work is safe and healthy, as well as enjoyable and rewarding. This page gives employers and parents the information they need to protect children in the workplace.

Byelaws protecting children in employment

Argyll and Bute Council is committed to the protection of children in employment, and has produced byelaws that state the rules and regulations governing the employment of children.

Argyll and Bute Council Employment of children byelaws (14th August 2002)

Child Performance Licence

Children of school age who are involved in performances may require a licence - find out more about child performance licences and how to apply

Some questions and answers

Do I need a permit?
Yes, a permit is required if the person to be employed is under 16

Is there any charge for this permit?
No, there is no charge for this permit

How do I get this permit?
The application form can be downloaded here.

Further information

In the UK there are restrictions on the types and amount of work which can be carried out by young people under the age of 16 .   The restrictions vary depending on the age of the young person. These notes are intended or guidance only and are not an authoritative statement of the law. Any parent or employer wishing further advice as to the law should seek independent advice from a solicitor or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

The Circular on the Council’s byelaws provides details of what age children can work in Argyll, what hours they can work, and what types of work they are permitted to do. The main provisions are as follows

  • The minimum age at which a child may be employed is 14.
  •  Children aged 14 to 16 are only permitted to be employed in light work.

The Council’s byelaws allow 13 year olds to work on an occasional basis  in certain categories of light work.  These categories  include

  • agricultural or horticultural work where employed by the child’s parents or carers;
  • delivery of newspapers, journals and other printed material and collection of payment for same);
  •  shop work including shelf stacking;
  •  hairdressing salons;
  •  office work;
  •  car washing by hand in a private residential setting;
  •  in a café or restaurant;
  •  in riding stables;
  •  domestic work in hotels and other establishments offering accommodation.

Where collection of money is involved the young person must be under “adult” supervision.

Children aged 14 to 16 are not permitted to work during the following periods:

  • during school hours;
  • before 7o’clock in the morning or after 7 o’clock in the evening;
  • for more than 2 hours on any school day;
  • for more than 2 hours on any Sunday;
  • for more than 4 hours in any day without a rest break of 1 hour;

In a school week for not more than 12 hours shall be worked.

The daily limits in respect of term time are –

  • 2 hours per school day;
  • 2 hours on a Sunday
  • 8 hours over 15 years and 5 hours under 15 years on a Saturday;

At any time in the year unless they have had two consecutive weeks without employment during the school holidays;

If aged under 15 for more than 5 hours on any day which is not a school day or a Sunday or for more than 25 hours in any week not required to attend school;

If aged 15 for than 8 hours on any day which is not a school day or a Sunday or for more than 35 hours in any week when not required to attend school.

children can only be employed for a maximum of 1 hour after 7 o’clock in the morning before the start of the school day on any day in which they are required to attend school.

no child may be employed in any work out-of-doors unless wearing suitable clothes and shoes.

children over 14 are only able to be employed in street trade if they are in the employment of and supervised by their parents.  Children over 14 are not permitted to take part in street trading on Sunday and require to obtain a street trader’s licence from a local authority.

Education Management Circular No. 3.28 - Protection of children at work: employment of children byelaws

Protection of children at work - application for employment permit

Health and Safety of children at work

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published comprehensive guidance on protecting the safety and health of young people and children at work. See "What the law says about young people at work".

An employer proposing to employ a child is required to submit a written risk assessment with the application for a permit. Health and Safety law also requires that the employer informs the parent(s) or guardian(s) of any child of the possible risks from work and the measures put in place to control them. The council recommends that this is done by sending the parent(s) or guardian(s) a copy of the risk assessment submitted with the application for a permit.

HSE have guidelines on their website about employment of children and young people, and employers responsibilities- Young people at work. It should be noted that the council's byelaws specifically prohibit the employment of children in commercial kitchens.

For more information and advice on health and safety, please contact your local Environmental Health office.

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