A Guide to Child Employment Laws in the UK

There are many different laws and restrictions in place within the United Kingdom in order to protect the rights of young people who wish to join the workforce. These laws are intended to protect the child’s rights and ability to pursue an education as well as to ensure their safety and fair treatment. Child labor laws in the UK are continually changing to meet the demands of the system as it evolves but there are several key restrictions in place.

UK child employment laws are designed to protect the welfare of the child, therefore an emphasis is placed on their education and well being from a young age. The first restriction placed on working children is that they cannot begin work before the age of 13 unless it is within the fields of television, theatre, or modeling. These three fields also require a performance license however, which can be attained from a local council after the child’s teacher has been interviewed and it has been assured that working will not cause a disruption to their education. Full time work can only begin after a child has turned 16 years of age, and only after the last Friday in the month of June during that academic year.

Further restrictions include not working for more than one hour before school, or working before 7 am or after 7 pm., they also cannot work during school hours. The restrictions on the amount of time that can be worked are there to protect the child from being exploited due to working conditions and furthermore, they are not allowed to work in any factories or within an industrial site. This is a far cry from the history of child labor in the UK, where children were once forced to work in horrible conditions within many dangerous factory settings. This history likely influenced the restrictions placed on the locations that young people can work which further states that they cannot be employed anywhere that may be harmful to their health, or within pubs or any place prohibited by local bylaws.

There is also a restriction that states that children cannot work without being given a 2 week break from work during any school holiday and there are also term time restrictions that are mandated by local councils. Furthermore, children cannot work for more than four hours without being given at least a one hour break. Even with a performance license those children younger than 13 must have a chaperone present, a requirement designed to protect them and ensure that they are being treated fairly. These laws are designed and intended to protect children in every conceivable way and are constantly being updated and adjusted to suit the needs of the ever evolving workplace.