What sort of restrictions must employers observe regarding the employment of children under school leaving age?

In general, the law prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14 (s.18 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933). However, some local authorities permit the employment of children who have reached the age of 13, in certain types of light work (for example the delivery of newspapers).

The Children and Young Persons Act 1933, amended by the Children (Protection at Work) Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/276), imposes restrictions on the employment of children in certain jobs and restricts the hours that children may work. For example, children must not be employed: during school hours, before 7am or after 7pm, for more than two hours on any school day or any Sunday, or for more than one hour before school. Because local authorities may also impose further restrictions on the employment of children, regulations may vary from region to region. Children in their last two years of compulsory schooling may undertake work experience as part of their education provided that a local education authority or the governing body of a school on behalf of a local education authority approves.

Any employer that wishes to employ a child must first apply for a permit to the local education authority. The employer must supply the local education authority with details of the work proposed, and must adhere to any conditions the local education authority may impose. However, the local education authority may still prohibit or restrict employment if it feels that it may be to the child's detriment.