A guide to child employment

The employment of children is governed by national legislation, which lays down the hours that may be worked, and local byelaws, which set out the types of work that can and cannot be done.

Work permits

Any child of statutory school age wishing to undertake employment of any form must obtain a work permit . A child ceases to be of statutory school age on the last Friday in June in the school year in which he/she reaches 16. No child under the age of 13 may be employed.

Apply

Employers are responsible for obtaining a work permit. To apply complete a work permit form. Employers should complete and return the form within one week of employing the child

Work permits are issued in connection with a particular company and are not transferable.

Types of work

Only certain types of work are acceptable. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • delivery of newspapers, journals and other printed material;
  • agricultural or horticultural work;
  • in shops, including shelf stacking;
  • in hairdressing salons;
  • office work;
  • car washing by hand in a private residential setting;
  • in a cafĂ© or restaurant;
  • in riding stables;
  • domestic work in hotels and other establishments offering accommodation.

 Examples of areas in which a child may not be employed include: 

  • in a cinema, theatre, discotheque, dance hall or nightclub, except in a performance given entirely by children or under a Child Performance licence
  • to sell or deliver alcohol, except in sealed containers;
  • to deliver milk;
  • to deliver fuel oils;
  • in a commercial kitchen;
  • to collect or sort refuse;
  • in any work which is more than three metres above ground or floor level;
  • in work involving harmful exposure to physical, biological or chemical agents;
  • to collect money or to sell or canvass door to door, except under the supervision of an adult;
  • in work involving exposure to adult material or in situations which are for this reason otherwise unsuitable for children;
  • in telephone sales;
  • in any slaughterhouse or in that part of any butcher's shop or other premises connected with the killing of livestock, butchery or the preparation of carcasses or meat for sale;
  • as an attendant or assistant in a fairground or amusement arcade or in any other premises used for the purposes of public amusement by means of automatic machines, games of chance or skill or similar devices;
  • in the personal care of residents of any residential care home or nursing home unless under the supervision of an adult.

Further information

There is a range of leaflets about child employment or you can contact us for advice.

Worried about a child? 

Everyone has a role to play in protecting children from abuse and neglect. Find out how to report your concerns.

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