Christmas is coming and it can be a busy time for businesses. It’s also the time when young people might be looking for some part-time work so as there are some regulations to follow when employing children and young people, we thought it would be useful to outline them in this month’s blog.

The first thing to remember is that you cannot employ a child under the age of 13 in any circumstances unless it is connected to things like acting or modelling. If that is the case, you’ll need to obtain a performance licence from your local authority.

Once a child has reached 13, you can add them to your workforce but there are still rules around employment. If they are aged 13 or 14, it’s probably safe to assume they can only really work for you during the school holidays when they can work a maximum of 5 hours a day and 2 hours on a Sunday. 15- and 16-year olds can work slightly longer hours but the restrictions around term-time working still apply. A young person is not considered a school-leaver until the last Friday of June in the school year they reach 16. So someone who turns 16 in October isn’t officially a school-leaver until the following June.

There are also restrictions on the kind of work a young person can do for you. For example, they can’t work in a commercial kitchen, collect waste, deliver milk or sell alcohol. They also can’t work in a care home unless they are supervised by a responsible adult. A full list of prohibited occupations for young people can be found on the Cornwall Council website here.

If you plan on employing a young person under 16, you’ll need to obtain a work permit from the council which the parent or guardian and the child’s school headteacher must sign before you register with the council.

The UK minimum wage rates only apply for those who are over school leaving age so how much you pay your young employees will be up to you. We always recommend including the child’s parents in any discussion on pay so everyone agrees. Once you’ve done that, just let us know and we’ll add them to the regular payroll and they’ll be paid in the same way as everyone else.

You also don’t have to worry about pension auto-enrolment as anyone under 22 isn’t auto-enrolled although they can request to be included in your scheme.

Once a young person is officially a school leaver then slightly different rules apply. There are no restrictions on the hours they can work even if they are still studying but it would still be worth considering their school or college commitments before allocating work to them.

They can, of course, at this stage be embarking on their chosen career so may come to you as an apprentice. Minimum wage rules apply to apprentices under 19 but it is also complicated by how long they have been an apprentice, so if you are unsure as to which would be the correct rate, just ask us for help.

Things have come a long way since children in Ebenezer Scrooge’s London were forced to work all hours. Having a job can be a real learning opportunity for a young person today but if you do employ young people, always be sure to adhere to the rules. As always, you can just ask us for help if you need it.