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Employment of children


The employment of children of compulsory school age (generally speaking, those under the age of 16) is restricted by provisions in Part II of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (CYPA 1933) and Part II of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 (CYPA 1963).

Section 18 of CYPA 1933 contains a general restriction that prevents the employment of anyone under the age of 14. 13 year olds may be employed to carry out light work on a part time basis if local byelaws or regulations made by the Welsh Ministers allow.

Children under the age of 16 are restricted as to the number of hours they can work and particularly the hours they can work on a school day. The hours they can work are restricted as follows:

  • no more than two hours a day on school days or Sundays
  • no more than five hours a day (for under 15s) or 8 hours a day (for those aged 15) on non-school days Monday to Saturday
  • no more than 12 hours a week in a school week
  • no more than 25 hours a week (for under 15s) or 35 hours a week (for those aged 15) in a non-school week

Children must also have an hour break for every four hours they work.

If a local authority feels that a child’s employment is interfering with their education or is prejudicial to their health it can serve a notice on the employer imposing restrictions on the employment of the child or prohibiting them from employing the child at all (see section 559 of the Education Act 1996).

In addition to these general restrictions, CYPA 1933 contains restrictions preventing children from being employed in particular kinds of work such as street trading (section 20) or dangerous performances (section 24).

Children may be employed to take part in performances, whether live or broadcast, and in certain circumstances to travel abroad for these purposes, if authorised by a licence issued by the local authority for the area in which they reside (see section 25 CYPA 1933 and section 37 of CYPA 1963).

The Children (Performances) Regulations 1968 (SI 1968/1728) (as amended) set out the restrictions and conditions that apply to licences granted for children to be employed to take part in performances. As well as conditions requiring medical examinations to ensure the health of children, there is also a restriction in regulation 10 requiring that a local authority shall not issue a licence unless they "are satisfied that the child’s education will not suffer by reason of taking part in the performances or activities for which the licence is requested". If education is to be provided by a private teacher, the licensing authority is required to ensure that the education is satisfactory and properly taught and that on aggregate the child is receiving not less than three hours education for each day that they would otherwise be required to attend school.

To ensure that children in the last two years of compulsory schooling are able to take advantage of opportunities for work experience, section 560 of the Education Act 1996 provides that (with some exceptions) the restrictions regarding employment of children will not apply in relation to work experience arranged by the local authority or the child’s school.

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