Child employment

We need to know about all children who are of school age and are employed.  The work must be suitable and must not affect the child's health or education.

Employment is any type of work for an organisation that is in business to make a profit.

If you have any questions or need advice on child employment email childemploymentandentertainment@kent.gov.uk.

Children have to be 13 to work part-time. They can only work a set number of hours and must have breaks, find out more on the hours and breaks tab.

Child employment refers to all children of compulsory school age.

School-aged children are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

GOV.UK has more information on the minimum ages children can work.

Children younger than 13 can work in entertainment.

Children can only work a set amount of hours. It depends on what day of the week it is and whether it is term time or not.

Children are not allowed to work before 7am or after 7pm or during the school day.

 Maximum amount of hours per day
Type of dayAge 13 -14 Age 15+
Saturday5 hours8 hours
Sunday2 hours2 hours
School day2 hours per day - either 1 hour before school and 1 hour after school or 2 hours after school.2 hours per day - either 1 hour before school and 1 hour after school or 2 hours after school.
School holiday5 hours a day (except Sunday)8 hours a day (except Sunday)
  Maximum amount of hours per week
 Term time12 hours12 hours
 School holiday25 hours35 hours

Children must have:

  • a break of at least 1 hour after 4 hours work
  • a 2 week break from work during the school holidays.

Jobs allowed are:

  • agricultural or horticultural work
  • newspaper and printed material delivery including collecting money
  • shop work including shelf stacking
  • hairdressing salons
  • office work
  • riding stables
  • waitressing
  • domestic work in hotels and other buildings offering accommodation.

Babysitting for friends and neighbours is not classed as "employment".

Jobs not allowed are:

  • delivering fuel oils
  • street trading
  • pub and bar work
  • cleaning/operating machinery
  • collecting money or selling/canvassing door to door unless there is adult supervision
  • delivery of milk
  • collecting or sorting refuse
  • sale of alcohol, except in sealed containers
  • work in a slaughterhouse, or in the preparation of meat or fish for sale
  • telephone sales
  • activities connected with the use of firearms
  • personal care of residents in care homes unless there is adult supervision
  • any work which is more than 3 metres above ground level
  • anything involving harmful exposure to physical, biological or chemical agents
  • work involving exposure to adult material or in situations which are for this reason unsuitable for children
  • commercial kitchens
  • fairground and amusement arcades
  • building sites
  • gambling clubs
  • work in a cinema, theatre, discotheque, dance hall or nightclub, except in connection with performance given entirely by children
  • markets (unless employed and directly supervised by a child's parent in connection with their retail business).

GOV.UK has more information about restrictions on child employment.

Children may not work during school hours.

If a child is employed, their education must not suffer. School should be the priority.

Children in entertainment can take part in a licensed performance during the school day.

Employers must have a child work permit to employ a child.

A risk assessment (DOC, 246.0 KB) must be completed before the child starts work. You can find further advice on risk assessment on the Health and Safety Executive website.

If the employer doesn't have a child work permit, they can be fined up to £1000. If you have concerns about a child who you believe to be working outside of the legal requirements please download and complete the CE Referral Form (DOCX, 109.6 KB) with as much information as possible in order for us to carry out a full investigation. We may contact you during the investigation, unless your referral is anonymous.

Please return completed forms to ChildEmploymentandEntertainment@kent.gov.uk

Children who are over 16 and still in year 11 at school also require a permit.

Permits can be revoked if the job is affecting the child's attendance or performance at school. We can advise the employer to make changes to the job if it is affecting school. For example, changing the hours if the child is always late for school.

Work experience does not require a child work permit.

Once a permit has been issued, if the employment changes you will need to let us know.

The child work permit shows that the child's employment has been registered with us and that their employment is legal.

It is against the law to employ a child without a permit.

The person employing the child needs to apply.

Apply online for a work permit

The application form needs to be sent within 1 week of employment starting.

A risk assessment (DOC, 246.0 KB) must be completed before the child starts work. You can find further advice on risk assessment on the Health and Safety Executive website.