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What kinds of work can be done by 14 year olds?

The Children and Young Persons Act (1933) sets 14 as the minimum age at which children may be employed, and gives the following restrictions:

  • No child shall do any work other than light work. ‘Light work’ in this case is defined as tasks and working conditions which would not be harmful to the safety, health or development of children, and would not compromise their education.
  • A 14-year-old may not work for more than five hours on a Saturday or any other day (other than a Sunday) during the holidays. On a Sunday, a 14 year old may only work 2 hours.
  • On a school day, a 14 year old may not work: during school hours; before 7.00am or after 7.00pm; for more than 2 hours a day; or for more than 12 hours in any school week.
  • In the holidays, a 14-year-old may not work for more than 25 hours in any week, or for more than four hours in any day without a rest break of one hour.
  • A child must have at least two consecutive non-school weeks a year without work.

In addition to this, children are not allowed to work in the following areas:

  • street trading (though some local authorities do allow children of 14 to be employed by their parents in street trading)
  • performing abroad (without a specific licence from a justice of the peace)
  • scrap metal sales
  • betting shops
  • petrol stations
  • house to house charitable collections.

Also, although children between the ages of 14 and 16 may be employed in industry (subject to the restrictions on hours), employers have to keep a register of all employees under 16 and their dates of birth.

The National Minimum Wage does not apply to workers under 16.