Employing Young People made easy!

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Blog post on employing younger people and the laws of child employment

Employing younger (and older) people in your business

Doug and I have always employed individuals from a wide range of ages in our business and are particularly passionate about employing those who might otherwise be overlooked or excluded.

For the older generation, reaching retirement age isn’t always something to look forward to, and many retirees go on to find a new job or vocation for all manner of reasons.

My parents both still work and are now in their 80s.  They don’t work full-time and don’t actively pursue work, but if the phone rings and my father is asked for his advice (he is a Health & Safety consultant) he relishes the opportunity.  Similarly, my mother worked as an accountant until a few years ago and still handles our payroll on a monthly basis.

When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to turn 14 so I could get my first job.  My sister is older than me and she was already working as an accompanist on the piano at the local ballet school.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I landed my first job as a cleaner, working in a local residence, and earning the same amount of money for a half day than most of my friends earned in a full day behind the till in the local shop.

Having a job from a young age gave me such a good understanding of money, how to budget and save, and how to value what I had earned.

For the young people we’ve employed while we’ve been in business, we have seen so many benefits.  They have grown in confidence, learned a tremendous amount about business by being involved in so many different aspects of our business, created a much more interesting CV than many of their contemporaries and all of them, without exception, have gone on to have great careers in their chosen fields.

Employing the older generation

The older generation have so much to offer and of those we have employed over the years, we particularly love the fact that they really are unflappable.  Great for handling that emotional client on the phone, their wisdom and worldliness means they have all those traits we want in our staff, punctuality, no fluff and of course, years of knowledge and experience.

Employing the younger generation

It is commonly assumed – we know this because we’ve heard this from a lot of our friends over the years – that a child can’t work until they are 16.

This is not true!

Children can in fact work from the age of 13.

But what many people also don’t realise is that there are a whole host of rules and regulations as to what those children can and can’t do, where they can and can’t work and when!

The specific rules can be found here, but we’ve summarised the main points below:


Summary of the rules

At this point it’s worth clarifying what is meant by a ”child” in these circumstances.  A “child” is a young person who hasn’t yet reached the minimum school leaving age.  This varies depending on where you live but details can be found here.  In England it is the last Friday in June if they will be 16 by the end of the summer holidays.  https://www.gov.uk/know-when-you-can-leave-school

The earliest age from which a child can work part-time is 13 (unless in theatre, TV, sporting events or modelling – these will need a Performance licence)

Employment Permit

All children require an Employment Permit issued by the education department of the local council before they can start working for you.  This contains details of where and when (ie: which hours each week) they will be working, and it is signed by the parent and the business.

This is an easy process but in our experience it is made a little more onerous because councils seem not to be asked for this very frequently!  We originally tried approaching our “local” ie: Borough Council and they had never heard of it.  We finally found the right department at the County Council but they then seemed perplexed that we wanted to employ someone as a Company rather than simply taking a child on from their school during work experience week!

We also discovered – again this was a little difficult as we seemed to be an anomaly as an organisation! – that the permit applies to the place of work and not to the location of the business itself.  So, for example, for children we’ve employed in our events business, we had to apply for a permit in each county (or London borough) in which we had an event where we wanted one of our staff to work.

It is also worth noting that the application for a permit doesn’t have anything to do with the school where the child is enrolled.  We did have one young lady who desperately wanted a job but her school frowned on their pupils working.  I still to this day don’t understand this!  Clearly the Headmaster has never watched The Apprentice!  Luckily for both us and the young lady in question, her mother worked at the School and had a quiet word with the Head, and a problem was averted.


There are restrictions over:

  • Where a child can work (e.g. not places like a factory or industrial site)
  • When a child can work:
    • Not during school hours
    • Not before 7am or after 7pm
    • No more than one hour before school (unless local bylaws allow it)
    • No more than 4 hours at a time without taking a break of at least 1 hour
    • Not without having a 2-week break from any work during the school holidays in each calendar year
  • There are further restrictions on the total number of hours they can work. For example, work is limited to 2 hours a day or 12 hours a week during term time, or 5 hours on Saturday (13-14 year olds) or 8 hours on a Saturday (15-16 year olds)
  • The hours are more relaxed during school holidays.
  • Most unusual of all however, children can only work a maximum of 2 hours on Sundays, during term time or holidays.


Other things you might not know about employing children

  • There are different rules for minimum wage
  • You don’t necessarily need to operate a PAYE scheme
  • Children are entitled to holiday pay like any other worker. This means that this needs to be accrued from the point at which they start working for you.


So what are you waiting for?

There are so many benefits to employing children for both them and for you.

They are often fast workers, often creative with new ideas, have good IT skills, and are quick and willing to learn new things, plus they can often teach you new tricks too! 

From the point of view as an employer, they are a relatively inexpensive workforce although they do require supervision, firstly due to their inexperience but also from a Health and Safety viewpoint.

For the children themselves, it makes them feel grown up, it gives them self-esteem to work as part of the team, it’s a great start on the road to future employment, it’s great for their CVs and they learn additional skills/knowledge which should help them with their remaining schooling.  Last, but by no means least, they earn money which helps them develop independence as a well as a positive money-mindset and money management skills.

It is wonderful to see them flourish especially when they are treated equally i.e. as part of a team/organisation.  It can be a real tonic to have young minds as part of the business, and depending on your type of business, youngsters may be part of your target demographic, so it can be beneficial for market research too!

It is fair to say we have been sad to see all of our youngsters leave at the end of their employment!

We talk in more detail over in our Facebook community about all of these topics so you can be better informed and make the right decisions when setting up in business.

If you’re not already part of our community, it’s entirely free and can be found here:


Blog featured image Stressfree Business Hub the launch of our Facebook group

Liz & Doug are a husband and wife team who have been running successful micro businesses for 25 years. With backgrounds as a “big 4” chartered accountant and as consultants, both have worked for large companies with clients worldwide. They believe that with the right know-how and support, starting a business can be made easy (or certainly easier!)

The contents of this blog are for general information purposes only and are correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of going to press. You may wish to seek professional advice in relation to specific circumstances.

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