HR Expert: Job Applications from School Leavers
One of my clients has received job applications from school children and college students to fill summer job vacancies. Is there anything special that she needs to know that is different from employing adults?

Whilst general employment law principles are the same for managing younger workers as they are for your adult staff, there are some important differences in the legal structure depending on the exact age of the person; these apply mainly to the rules on working hours.

For anyone over school leaving age but not yet 18 (known as ‘young workers’), your client needs to make sure that working hours are no more than 8 per day and 40 per week although in certain limited circumstances this can be a bit more flexible.

Young workers need to have a break of at least 12 hours between the end of the working day and the start of the next; this is slightly more than the break that adult workers need to get, set at 11 hours. Another important difference is the daily rest break during the working day which again is slightly more favourable for young workers, set at a minimum 30 minutes when the working day is more than 4.5 hours. Workers of this age cannot work between midnight and 4 am.

Different rules apply to a worker who is of ‘compulsory school age’. Generally, children aged 13 and under are not permitted to work.

14-year-olds must not work:

  • before 7 am and after 7 pm on any day;
  • more than 5 hours on a Saturday or on weekdays during school holidays;
  • more than 2 hours on a Sunday;
  • more than 25 hours a week during school holidays.

Rules for 15 and 16-year-olds (who are not over compulsory school age) are largely the same as for 14-year-olds with the following alterations:

  • not more than 8 hours on a Saturday or on weekdays during school holidays;
  • not more than 35 hours a week during school holidays.

All employees who are still of compulsory school age must have a break of one hour if they work continuously for more than four hours.

Additional rules on working hours apply when work is to be done during term time so if your client decides to keep any of the children on after the school holidays have finished, she will also need to be aware of these.

Local bylaws may require an employment permit to the obtained from the local council, and may also set out what types of work cannot be carried out by children.

People who are over compulsory school age are entitled to receive the national minimum wage.


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