Child employment regulations

Employers must apply for a permit from Southwark Council in order to legally employ and insure a child of compulsory school age.

Children are of compulsory school age from the age of five until the last Friday in June in the year of their 16th birthday, after which they can apply for their national insurance number and work full-time.

Apply for a permit

You can apply for a child work permit by downloading the application form (pdf, 79kb).

Any changes to a child’s employment terms will require a new permit to be issued.

Age and time restrictions

The youngest age your child can work part time is 13 years old, with the exception of children who have obtained a performance license from us for television, theatre, modelling or similar activities.

By law, there must be a rest break of one hour after working for four hours in a row.

Ages 13 and 14

  • during term time, no more than 12 hours a week, but no more than two hours on any single school day when you may only work between 7am and 8am or 5pm and 7pm
  • Saturdays and school holidays, no more than 25 hours a week between 7am and 7pm, but no more than five hours a day
  • Sundays between 7am and 7pm, but no more than two hours

Ages 15 and 16

  • during term time, no more than 12 hours a week, but no more than two hours on any school day when you may only work between 7am and 8am or 5pm and 7pm
  • Saturdays and school holidays, no more than 35 hours a week between 7am and 7pm, but no more than eight hours a day
  • Sundays between 7am and 7pm, but no more than two hours

Working during school hours

Children are not allowed to work during school hours unless issued with a performance licence to work in entertainment. For full details, please view our page on performance licences.

Working during the school holidays

By law, a child must have a break of two full consecutive weeks at some time during the school holidays.

Type and place of work restrictions

Children of compulsory school age are not allowed to:

  • sell or serve alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes, and medicines
  • sell on the street, including food vans or stalls
  • sell or canvass door to door
  • use dangerous machinery or substances
  • do any job that may cause harm or injury
  • do photographic modelling, unless licensed

Children of compulsory school age are not allowed to work in:

  • billiard and gaming halls
  • amusement arcades
  • betting shops, racecourses, or tracks
  • telephone sales
  • fairgrounds
  • clubs, bars, kitchens, or chip shops
  • factories, warehouses, and building sites
  • theatres, cinemas, and discos, unless licensed to perform

Page last updated: 16 November 2017