Employing school children as part-time staff

Employment of children

Part II of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, in conjunction with by-laws made by Westminster City Council, regulates the employment of children under compulsory school age. Pupils whose 16th birthday falls between 1 September and 31 August will be of compulsory school age until the end of the last Friday in June of the year in question. It makes no difference whether they have National Insurance numbers or not. You must apply to the schools admissions team, for a permit, and you must only employ a child in a way which is consistent with the permit you receive.

You must notify us that you have employed a child within 1 week of doing so. We will issue a permit for the employment, provided:

  • it is lawful
  • it does not jeopardise the child’s health, welfare of ability to take full advantage of his or her education
  • he or she is fit to do the work

No-one under the age of 13 years is allowed to have a job. After their 13th birthday, a child may have a job, which must be part-time and out of school hours. The type of work allowed and the amount of time that may be worked are limited. Children aged 13 years or over may be employed in any work which does not fall into one of the types of prohibited employment listed opposite, provided it is ‘light work’. You can get further guidance from the Access to Education team.

You commit an offence if you employ a child in breach of the by-laws and if convicted you may be fined up to £1000 in a magistrate’s court. Children may only be employed in street trading if aged 14 years or over employed by their parents in possession a street trader’s licence issued by the Access to Education team.

Types of work allowed

Examples of work usually approved:

  • newspaper delivery
  • shop work
  • office work
  • light cleaning
  • washing up

Types of work never allowed

  • cinema, theatre, disco, dancehall, night club (except in performances given entirely by children)
  • selling or delivering alcohol, except in sealed containers
  • delivering milk
  • delivering fuel oils
  • working in a commercial kitchen
  • collecting or sorting refuse
  • any work more than 3 metres above ground level or, in the case of indoor work, more than 3 metres above floor level
  • employment entailing harmful exposure to physical, biological or chemical agents
  • collecting money or selling or canvassing door to door, except under adult supervision
  • work entailing exposure to adult material or in situations that are for this reason otherwise unsuitable for children
  • telephone sales
  • in a slaughterhouse or in that part of a butcher’s shop or other premises connected with the killing of livestock, butchery or the preparation of carcass meat for sale
  • as an attendant or assistant in a fairground or amusement arcade or in any premises used for the purpose of public amusement by means of automatic machines, games of chance or skill or similar devices
  • in the personal care of residents of a residential home, unless under the supervision of a responsible adult

Hours that can be worked

School days

Maximum of 2 hours on school days (either 1 hour before and 1 hour after school, or 2 hours after school). Not before 7am or after 7pm.

Saturdays and holidays

Between 7am and 7pm.

Maximum of 5 hours a day if under 15 years or 8 hours a day if over.


Between 7am and 7pm.

Maximum of 2 hours a day.

During term time a working week may not exceed 12 hours. During school holidays it may not exceed 25 hours for the under-15s or 35 hours for the over-15s. Children are entitled to a rest of 1 hour after 4 hours work. In any year they must have at least 2 weeks during which they do not have to be in school or employed.

How to apply for a work permit

The local authority will issue this on application from an employer, if the conditions are fulfilled. The consent of a parent or carer is necessary, and confirmation may be sought from a medical officer (usually an employee’s school medical officer) that the work will not harm the employee or his or her education.

Application forms are available from local authority offices and secondary schools.

Employees should carry their permits while at work.

The law

It is an offence to employ a pupil without notifying the local authority. Children who work during school hours are being exploited. Both pupil and employer could be prosecuted and fined heavily if this happens.



Last updated: 21 May 2019