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What work can 15- and 16-year-olds do?

The employment of 15- and 16-year-old children who have not reached school leaving age is restricted by the Children and Young Persons Act (1933).

Essentially, the restrictions on hours and types of work are the same as those applying to 14-year-olds:

  • not in prohibited industries;
  • only light work;
  • not before 7am or after 7pm;
  • not during school hours on any day the child is required to attend school; and
  • not for more than two hours on any school day, or 12 hours in any school week.

However, at 15 and 16, a child may work for up to eight hours on a weekday when he or she is not at school or on a Saturday, and for up to 35 hours in a non-school week.

The National Minimum Wage applies to 16 and 17 year olds at £3.72 an hour (from October 2013 to October 2014). Apprentices under the age of 19 (or over 19 but in the first year of their apprenticeship) are entitled to £2.68 an hour.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) regulations also specify that only persons over the age of 16 years are entitled to sick pay, so a child under school leaving age is not entitled to SSP and, in reality, is most unlikely to receive contractual sick pay, even if prevented from working by illness.