Rules for employing under 18’s

In England, a young person must be in part time education or training until they are 18. 

When you’re employing under 18 year olds, they must be doing one of the following:

  • Staying in education full time (college, 6th form)
  • Start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • Spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering while in part-time education or training


Hours of work 

You shouldn’t expect young workers to work when they should be learning or training (eg. attending college), and you shouldn’t normally ask them to work more than 40 hours per week or over 8 hours per day, unless:

  • There is no one over 18 available to do the work
  • You need them if you suddenly become busy or need to keep the service running
  • Working extra hours won’t affect their education or training



Working at Night

It is illegal for anyone under 18 to work between 12am – 4am. 

Young workers must not work during 10pm – 6am, known as the ‘restricted period’, if their contract does not say they need to work these hours.

There is an exception, where they can work up to 12am or from 4am if it is necessary for the following types of work:

      • Hospitality and Catering (hotel, pub, restaurant etc.)
      • Retail
      • Agriculture
      • Postal/Newspaper Deliveries
      • Healthcare
      • Advertising


This would only be due to one of the following reasons:

  • There is no one over 18 available to do the work
  • Working extra hours won’t affect their education or training


If the young person needs to work after 10pm or before 7am, then as an employer you must:

  • Make sure the young person is supervised by one or more adult workers where necessary for their safety
  • Give them the time to rest to make up for it


  • Under 18’s must have a 30 minute break if their working days is longer than 4.5 hours
  • They should have 48 consecutive hours of rest per week
  • They should have 12 hours of rest in any 24 hour period – unless their working day is split into shorter periods of work
  • You can ask an under 18 to take a shorter break or have less than 12 hours off in between days if:
    • There is no one over 18 available to do the work
    • The work won’t last a long period of time
    • The work needs doing immediately
    • Something unexpected has happened
    • You give them the time to rest to make up for it


Working in an establishment that serves alcohol 
  • You need to check the rules of your local council as to whether you can allow an under 18 to serve alcohol.


Working in an establishment that works with chemicals 

Under 18’s can’t be working in an environment where they may come into contact with chemicals, toxic materials or radiation unless:

  • It is a part of their training
  • They are being supervised by an experienced person
  • You are keeping them as safe as possible


Key points to take note of:
  • You can’t employ under 18 year olds for a job they are not physically and mentally able to do
  • You can’t ask an under 18 year old to work a job that is a risk to their health because of extreme cold, heat or vibration
  • Young workers are allowed the same amount of paid holiday as adults
  • You must carry out a risk assessment before hiring a young worker
  • You must keep a record of the young person’s hours by law, to ensure they are not working more than 8hrs per day or 40 hours per week or working during restricted hours (these records must be kept for 2 years from the date they were made)


Current National Minimum Wage Rates (April 2022 – April 2023)


Rate from April 2022 Increase
National Living Wage £9.50 6.6%
21-22 Year Old Rate £9.18 9.8%
18-20 Year Old Rate £6.83 4.1%
16-17 Year Old Rate £4.81 4.1%
Apprentice Rate £4.81 11.9%
Accommodation Offset £8.70 4.1%


These rates are set to rise in 2023.


Once someone reaches the age of 18, adult employment rights and rules then apply



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