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Is it Legal to Work at 14?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 20 Dec 2019 | comments*Discuss
Children Work Children And Young


My daughter aged 14 is wondering about taking work in a small restaurant locally, washing up, one evening a week for around 5 hours. I believe some of her friends already do the same thing.

What are the implications of this from a parents point of view? We are not sure if this is allowed under employment law, should we be worried as parents or is it the employer who is taking the risk?

(Mr Andrew Tinker, 1 October 2008)


Under the 1998 amendment to the Children and Young Person’s Act 1933, the minimum working age is 14, although 13 is acceptable for some work, such as paper rounds. So in that regard it’s perfectly acceptable for your daughter to work.

However, under the Act, the hours she’s working – and where she’s working – would seem to be illegal.

It’s admirable that she’s shown the initiative and willingness to work and bodes well for the future, but children between 13 and school leaving age are restricted in the hours they may work.

On school days, that’s limited to one hour before school and two hours after, but the total on any school day cannot be more than two hours. During term time, including weekends, they’re allowed a total of 12 hours a week of work, which includes Saturdays and Sundays, with a maximum of two hours on a Sunday. After three hours of work they must be given an hour’s break. For those 15 and older it’s eight hours on non-school days, with an hour’s break after four hours of work.

During school holidays, at ages 13 and 14 they can work a maximum of 25 hours a week (for 15 and over that expands to 35 hours in a week) including weekends.

There are also a number of places where children of any age cannot be employed, and it’s a fairly lengthy list. They can only deliver or sell alcohol in sealed containers, for instance, and aren’t allowed to work more than three metres above the ground, or work with chemical or biological agents, or with adult materials. These, of course, are all for the protection of the child. But also in that list is a prohibition against working in a commercial kitchen. That could quite possibly include washing dishes in a small local restaurant, since it is a commercial operation.

If inspectors were to come in, your daughter’s employer might be found to be in violation of the Act.

Your daughter should also have a permit to work, because of her age. It will be issued by the Local Education Authority.

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How do I go about reporting under age bar staff an who too.
Sprig - 20-Dec-19 @ 5:03 PM
What jobs can you do when age 13 can you send a list
Dylan - 16-Aug-19 @ 8:02 PM
Am I aloud to work at the cafe on Sunday's.im 10 years old
Mister Louis - 12-Mar-18 @ 6:50 AM
Hello. My 14 year old would like to do some work. I'm unsure of what jobs she can do other than a paper round, and tbh I'm not keen on her wandering around on her own doing deliveries for obvious reasons. I'm hoping you may be able to send me a list of suitable jobs that we can look for, suitable for this age please. Thank you in advance.
Hels - 15-Aug-17 @ 8:32 AM
Hi, I'm 14 and I've been offered some work experience at a big restaurant, my should has organized it for me to go and do a full week and then following once a week 8:30am to 3pm ????
Prath - 13-Nov-16 @ 9:52 AM
@sonya - I have included a link here on Guidance on the Employment of Children. I hope this answers your question.
YourTeenager - 22-Jun-15 @ 12:19 PM
Hi, We have a small shop and we have a work experience at the moment and she is 14 years of age.She would like to work for us on a Saturday doing computer work putting items online for sale.Would this be allowed and would she have to be supervised or could she be left in the shop on her own.? Look forward to your reply. Kind regards SONYA CROSS \
sonya - 19-Jun-15 @ 11:56 AM
Is this in the UK, because I'm a13 year old teenager, who wants to get a job. I'm turning 14 this April, and I'm wondering if I can get a job. Please reply.
Sunny - 20-Sep-14 @ 11:19 PM
My daughter is stealing, playing truant, has had episodes of running away with her friend etc., She is often bullied in the area and doesn't feel she fits in at school. She has also self-harmed and taken an overdose on 2 occasions. We are involved with proffesionals and sees a clinical psycologist.I talk through her distress and behaviour with proffessional people but don't seem to be able to communicate to them the full picture. She comes to talk to me when she feels hurt by her peers comments or has been threatened in some way by a certain gang of teenagers in the area, and we have close links with the police and her school etc., although she has no trust in authority figures of any kind. She accepts comfort and reassurance from me when she is a victim of bullying etc., but as soon as I have found out something/or the school find out something to do with her behaving in a negative or an imoral way she puts a 'ten feet wall' between us and even before I have even considered how I am going to approach her about this behaviour or even uttered one word she becomes voilently agressive towards me which is an extremely effective defense mechansim. I go to her room to both check that she is not self harming and talk softly to her but she immediatly tells me to get out. I am told to try talking to her or dole out consequences for bad behaviour but the only alternative I have is to leave her alone as she becomes very very hostile. For example this happened tonight.We had been getting on very well in the last few days and then her friends mother phoned and told me she has found out that her and my daughter had been stealing from a local shop.Her friend must have been texted her to tell her that her mother had found out.I only called her name as she was upstairs in her bedroom and she shouted 'go away'.I then went up to her room and she kept saying 'get out;.On another occasion she tried pushing me down the stairs. I am always frightend that she will take an overdose, cut herself or run away while she is like this too and find it difficult to deal with. Wondered if anyone could give some advice on what is going on with her and how I am to deal with it.
sydney - 31-Jan-13 @ 12:31 AM
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